Textbook Notes (381,163)
CA (168,383)
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Anthropology (539)
ANTA02H3 (146)
Chapter

Culture

1 Page
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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTA02H3
Professor
Maggie Cummings

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What Is Culture and How Do Anthropologists Investigate It? (VSI: CH1&2; Geertz Balinese Cockfight)
Ethnography and Fieldwork
-What anthropologists do is ETHNOGRAPHY (FIELDWORK)
-PARTICIPIANT OBSERVATION based simple on the idea that in order to understand what people are up to,
it is best to observe them by interacting with them intimately and over an extended period of time
-Fieldwork gives anthropology its great deal of romance
Social interaction is conducted entirely face-to-face: this provided anthropologists with a simplified view of
the elementary workings of society, one that is contrasted with the modern Western society
SALVAGE ETHNOGRAPHY: the ways of life represented by the smaller societies are rapidly disappearing,
and since many of them had no writing, it was an urgent task to preserve a record for posterity
Participant observation seems to be the most effective way of understanding in depth the ways in which
other people see the world and interact with it, and often provides a check on our own preconceptions and
beliefs
-W.H.R. Rivers, Bronislaw Malinowski, Franz Boas and others founders of modern professional anthropology of
the first-hand collection of ethnographic data
-An ethnographer goes to the field with the intention of studying some particular aspect of social life
Most anthropologists begin their preparation with several years of study in the history or previous
ethnographic literature of the region in which they propose to do fieldwork
An ethnographer may need to acquire another language
An ethnographers first task is to become established in the community
Dialogues is the backbone of ethnography: the interviews the most important technique to collect data
The key to ethnographic success is being there, available to observe, available to follow up, available to take
advantage of the chance event
Leaving the field can be difficult (i.e. bond with the community); no ethnographic project is ever truly
complete
-Advantages of Ethnography:
The ability to observe unusual, unique events
The openness to the serendipitous discovery that gives the ethnographic method strength and flexibility
The randomness of ethnographic serendipity is compensated for by the length of time an ethnographer
spends in the field
The discrepancy between what a social event is apparently about and what it might really be about is almost
impossible to discern without the experiential context ethnographic fieldwork makes available
The interplay between cross-cultural and universal comparisons gives the anthropology much of its value
-Disadvantages of Ethnography:
The temptation for the ethnographer to present the community in a kind of temporal and spatial isolation:
many ethnographers used an idea called ETHNOGRAPHIC PRESENT in which communities were
presented as frozen in time, without any outside and historical context and without referencing or
neighbouring societies
Anthropologists may sometimes be carried away by the romance of their own study and the unspoiled
traditions of a society more than the people themselves do
The tendency of ethnographers to write in an omniscient third-person voice, as if they had not been actively
involved in the information they present
A long-term intense interaction with the people may allow the ethnographer to dig deeply into the
complexities and subtleties of a communitys social life
Ethnography is incomplete without the cross-cultural comparisons
The objectivity of the data (i.e. a chemist can calibrate his instruments; anthropologists do not and cannot)
-The nature of ethnographic work is such that the researcher develops a unique set of relationships with the
people he or she studies with moral and ethical values
Culture
-
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Description
What Is Culture and How Do Anthropologists Investigate It? (VSI: CH1&2; Geertz Balinese Cockfight) Ethnography and Fieldwork - What anthropologists do is ETHNOGRAPHY (FIELDWORK) - PARTICIPIANT OBSERVATION based simple on the idea that in order to understand what people are up to, it is best to observe them by interacting with them intimately and over an extended period of time - Fieldwork gives anthropology its great deal of romance Social interaction is conducted entirely face-to-face: this provided anthropologists with a simplified view of the elementary workings of society, one that is contrasted with the modern Western society SALVAGE ETHNOGRAPHY: the ways of life represented by the smaller societies are rapidly disappearing, and since many of them had no writing, it was an urgent task to preserve a record for posterity Participant observation seems to be the most effective way of understanding in depth the ways in which other people seethe world and interact with it, and often provides a check on our own preconceptions and beliefs - W.H.R. Rivers, Bronislaw Malinowski, Franz Boas and others founders of modern professional anthropology of the first-hand collection of ethnographic data - An ethnographer goesto the field with the intention of studying some particular aspect of social life Most anthropologists begin their preparation with several years of study in the history or previous ethnographic literature of the region in which they propose to do fieldwork An ethnographer may need to acquire another language An ethnographers first task is to become established in the community Dialogues is the backbone of ethnography: the interviews the most important technique to collect data The key to ethnographic successis being there, available to observe, available to follow up, available to take advantage of the chance event Leaving the field can be difficult (i.e. bond with the community); no ethnog
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