Another classic example of a style of anthropological writing that attempted to make the familiar strange and encouraged readers to consider their own cultures in a different way is Horace Miner’s Body Ritual among the Nacirema (1956). Had I not fully understood the importance of body contact and physical proximity in communication in Brazil, I would have missed an important component of the culture. Pho-tographer Edward S. Curtis (1868–1952) has been criticized for reinforcing romanticized images of “authentic” native scenes. The word undocumented acknowledges the human dignity and cultural and political ties immigrants have developed in their country of residence despite their in-ability to establish formal residence permissions. Anthropological nutritional analysis is an area of research that commonly relies on collecting quantitative data. Informants must be aware of who the anthropologist is and the research topic, who is financially and otherwise supporting the research, how the research will be used, and who will have access to it. For informants, a written report in the researcher’s native language may not be the best way to convey the results. In a well-known book about his research. As discussed throughout this chapter, anthropologists are oriented toward developing empathy for their informants and understanding their cultures and experiences from an emic perspective. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008. In the early years, ethnographers were interested in exploring the entirety of a culture. Had I not taken a culturally relativistic view at the outset and instead judged the actions based on my cultural perspective, I would have been continually frustrated and likely would have confused and offended people in the community. To conduct participant observation, ethnographers must live with or spend considerable time with their informants to establish a strong rapport with them. . I did not document every dimension of my informants’ lives; instead, I focused on the things most closely related to my research problem. Other sources of data include informal conversations and more-formal interviews that are recorded and transcribed. Some anthropologists feel that striving for objectivity in ethnography is paramount. for financial gain. For an anthropologist, etic descriptions typically arise from conversations between the ethnographer and the anthropological community. Should the anthropologist intervene to prevent girls and women from being subjected to this practice? Benjamin Lee Whorf, “Science and Linguistics,” MIT Technology Review 42 (1940): 229–248. From a culturally relativistic perspective, the comments demonstrated that they cared about me, were concerned with my well-being, and wanted me to be part of the community. . Different types of data produce different kinds of ethnographic descriptions, which also vary in terms of perspective—from the perspective of the studied culture (emic) or from the perspective of the observer (etic). A few women then entered the rapid-fire discussion. In an effort to preserve on film what many believed was a traditional way of life soon to be lost, Flaherty took considerable artistic license to represent the culture as he imagined it was in the past, includ-ing staging certain scenes and asking the Inuit men to use spears instead of rifles to make the film seem more “authentic.”. the American Anthropological Association: AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over For you, these parts of your culture are so normal and “natural” you probably would never consider questioning them. He started with a problem: how has citizenship been discussed as an identity marker in the mainstream media in the United States, especially among those labeled as Latinos. Rather than arriving at the field site with only general ideas about the goals of the study, they tend to select a particular problem before arriving and then let that problem guide their research. Adoption of reflexivity is perhaps the most significant change in how ethnography is researched and written in the past 50 years. An important element for successful conversations and interviews is establishing rapport with informants. Mixed methods can be particularly useful when conducting problem-oriented research on complex, technologically advanced societies such as the United States. In another example, Peter Gordon spent many years living among the Pirahã tribe of Brazil learning their language and culture. The results of deductive research can be generalizable to other settings. Increasingly, cultural anthropologists are using quantitative research methods to complement qualitative approaches. "Doing Fieldwork: Methods in Cultural Anthropology" by Katie Nelson, Inver Hills Community College. Katie Nelson, PhD is a professor of anthropology at Inver Hills Community College. This tech-nique of participant observation is central to anthropological re-search today. Additionally, the general population is usually literate and somewhat comfortable with the idea of filling out a questionnaire. Zinacantán had said, the San Andrés women replied that “Yes, perhaps they do get bored easily. As discussed throughout this chapter, anthropologists are oriented toward developing empathy for their informants and understanding their cultures and experiences from an emic perspective. Others resisted the label because of long-standing family and inter-personal conflicts in the community. Regardless of the particular technique, data analysis involves a systematic interpretation of what the researcher thinks the data mean. . Reflexivity reminds the ethnographer that there are multiple ways to interpret any given cultural scenario. These mixed-method approaches integrate qualitative and quantitative evidence to provide a more comprehensive analysis. Miner, Horace. Ethnographers often also keep a personal journal or diary that may include information about their emotions and personal experiences while conducting research. Inductive research usually is not generalizable to other settings. Before fieldwork begins, researchers from universities, colleges, and institutions usually must submit their research agendas to an institutional review board (IRB). They spent months to years living in the community, and in that time, they documented in great detail every dimension of people’s lives, including their language, subsistence strategies, political systems, formation of families and marriages, and religious beliefs. He then looked for a variety of types of data and relied on ethnographic case studies and on quantitative data from surveys and questionnaires. From the comfort of their homes and library armchairs, early scholars collected others’ travel accounts and used them to come to conclusions about far-flung cultures and peoples. 1. Ethnocentrism: the tendency to view one’s own culture as most important and correct and as the stick by which to measure all other cultures. Thus, I learned through participant observation that weaving is an exceptionally difficult task. What is unique about ethnographic fieldwork and how did it emerge as a key strategy in anthropology? Asking them to sign a formal legal-looking document may intimidate them. An emic lens gives us an alternative perspective that is essential when constructing a comprehensive view of a people. Only a week before completing the initial draft of an earlier version of this introduction, I rediscovered my journal entry, written some six weeks after Michelle’s death, in which I made a vow to myself about how I would return to writing anthropology, if I ever did so, by writing Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage . For anthropologists in the field, cultural relativism is especially important. ), and my body size and shape (“You have a nice bust, but if you lost a little weight around the middle you would be even more attractive!”). Anthropologists must continually reevaluate their research and writing to ensure that it does not harm the informants or their communities. When an anthropologist establishes a rapport with these individuals and begins to rely more on them for information than on others, the cultural specialists are referred to as key informants or key cultural consultants. blood ties, common ancestry, and social relationships that form families within human groups. Fortunately, the reign of armchair anthropology was brief.


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