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Chapter 9-11

ANTHROP 3P03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9-11: False Light, Ethnography

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Ellen Badone

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Commentary: Ethnography Essentials Chapter 9, 10, 11
In chapter nine, the author sets about explaining how ethnographers make use of
ethnographic maps and their importance. According to the author the maps shows the use of
space within one’s ethnography. This is seen in the example the author gives of John Wood’s
study of the Gabra, as seen through the separation of a space into female and male binaries. The
map is a good indicator of how a certain culture uses space, movement, shape, and distance to
define themselves as members of a culture. Spaces can be both open, to represent the entirety of
the culture, or public aspects, while the interior of homes represent the private or individual
aspects of a culture. The movement that can be documented in the maps can be instrumental in
showing patterns and practices that are ‘essential’ and part of a culture. I believe the author is
correct in stating the importance of ethnographic maps, in that they can depict how movements
can tell a lot about a culture and its members. The one thing that the author did not address is
how accurate can ethnographic maps be if people are always in movement, people change, and if
the map depends on the ethnographer’s perspective and view.
Chapter 10 deals with the use of tables and charts to support the data and represent
human activity within ethnographies. Tables and charts are useful for plotting out connections
are associations to and within social and cultural categories. Such tables can be used to plot out
kinship or families, such as in the Yanomamo example given by the author. The Yanomamo
kinship was studied by Napoleon Chagnon in his ethnographic work. Tables can study both
differences and similarities between different categories within groups like the Yanomamo. I feel
that the author could have chosen a better example than Chagnon’s work with the Yanomamo, as
he depicted the group as violent and uncivilized; in other words, in a false light.
The eleventh chapter looks at the role of cultural artifacts in providing a wide array of
information regarding the production, use and importance of the artifacts in the cultural context.
The objects can supplement the existing information within a developing ethnography by
providing information on things like change and developments and how that has affected daily
life and a culture. The author also states that the ethnographer needs to analyze their sources. I
find that as the author states, it best to use both analytical works and popular and/or primary
sources in ethnographies to make it more realistic and appealing to the reader.
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