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AN101 Lecture 4

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Anne- Marie Colpron

Lecture 4 1/18/2013 10:30:00 AM Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)  Fieldwork and participant observation  Stayed 2 years among the Trobiand people  Learned their language  Interacted in their everyday life.  Learning language in important. Malinowski Classical Ethnography  Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) Anthropologists in fieldwork:  Take field notes  Takes pictures  Records audio material such as interviews, myths and songs. Question:  Why was his approach revolutionary at the time? o It went against the current anthropology ways and evolutions theories. o He saw the flaws in anthropology for those two reasons. Arm-chair anthropologists  Worked with materials collected by others (missionaries, traders, explorers, or colonial officials.)  Problematic:  Incomplete and decontextualized information  Focus on the sensationalist and the spectacular  Satisfy westerns expectation on the “exotic other: th Evolutionism of the 19 century  A problematic theory that stipulates that all human groups follow the same stages of cultural evolution  All human groups and aligned in a single evolution line from the most primitive to most civilized.  Anthropologists would place themselves at the top of the evolutionary scale, and everyone else below them. Evolutionist theory:  Anthropologists start criticizing tis theory at the beginning of the th 20 century.  In anthropology today, this theory is considered obsolete and very ethnocentric. Fieldwork:  At the beginning of the 20 thcentury, the methodology of fieldwork allowed anthropologists, such as Malinowski, to criticize evolutionist theories. Question:  Do we still do the same field work that Malinowski did now? o The way of doing fieldwork changed through time: o From a positivistic approach to a reflexive approach. It is important to contextualize the anthropologists and their historical and cultural background:  Malinowski: positivist approach  Annette Weiner: reflexive approach Positivi
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