Anthropology Discussion

Do This First:Read the Lecture-Study GuideView the Slide ShowREAD ALL INSTRUCTIONSEthnographic fieldwork is not limited to foreign locales or distant cultures. It can be carried out in our own cities and communities. For this discussion topic, outline in at least three solid paragraphs a possible ethnographic research project that you could carry out as a graduate student in anthropology.Set the project in a specific community of the Los Angeles area, for instance Gardena or Carson or Wilmington, or any local community. Do not try to cover all of LA! A research setting within the Los Angeles area does not mean your project must address a serious social problem. In fact, avoid topics like homelessness, addiction, and violence. These are problems that require multiple approaches and expertise, sometimes in psychological or medical areas. Keep in mind that cultural anthropologists have a broad range of research interests that may include the creative aspect of people’s lives, such as art, music, or crafts found in particular communities. I recommend considering something that could be done on a small scale with a focus on culture. Cultural anthropologists also study the creative aspect of people’s lives, for instance, for instance the art, music, or crafts of particular communities. Keep you proposed project small and doable, something that can be accomplished in a year’s timeRequired:1. Describe the objectives and purpose of your hypothetical research–what is it you hope to discover or test. “Why questions” can be too open-ended. Look for ways to focus the research. Who or what will possibly benefit from the findings of your research?2. Describe the main techniques or methods you would use and explain why. Be very specific here. The techniques or methods need to be a good fit for the project and for your overall research objectives. Explain why you might need quantitative or qualitative data. The sidebar terms in Chapter 3 will be useful here. 3. Explain what measures you would take to conduct your research ethically. 4. Describe the preparation needed before you went into the field? Remember that ethnography is carried out through first-hand observations and usually is guided by a lot of preliminary reading and exposure to the research of others. Think “literature review.”5. How might you yourself be changed by conducting this fieldwork project if it were a “real” project?6. After submitting your discussion posting, respond with a comment to another student’s posting for this discussion.This is a hypothetical project–not an actual project for this class. The point is to challenge yourself with developing a question or hypothesis worth researching and then consider how to best go about conducting the research.SHOULD REFLECT CAREFUL ATTENTION TO 1-6
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Chapter 3
Fieldwork and Ethnography
An Introduction to Fieldwork and
Ethnography
Chapter Learning Outcomes
• What is unique about ethnographic fieldwork,
and why do anthropologists conduct this kind of
research?
• How did the idea of fieldwork develop?
• How do anthropologists get started conducting
fieldwork?
• How do anthropologists write ethnography?
• What moral and ethical concerns guide
anthropologists in their research and writing?
• How are fieldwork strategies changing in
response to globalization?
What is unique about ethnographic fieldwork, and why
do anthropologists conduct this kind of research?
What is unique about ethnographic fieldwork, and why
do anthropologists conduct this kind of research?
• Fieldwork Begins
with People
• Fieldwork Shapes
the Anthropologist
– Culture shock
• Fieldwork as a
Social Science and
as Art
• Fieldwork Informs
Daily Life
How did the idea of fieldwork develop?
• Early Accounts
of Encounters
with Others
How did the idea of fieldwork develop?
• Early Accounts of
Encounters with Others
• Nineteenth-Century
Anthropology and the
Colonial Encounter
• The Professionalization
of Social Scientific
Data-Gathering and
Analysis
The Professionalization of Social Scientific DataGathering and Analysis
• Franz Boas
The Professionalization of Social Scientific
Data-Gathering and Analysis
• Franz Boas
• Bronislaw Malinowski
The Professionalization of Social Scientific
Data-Gathering and Analysis
• Franz Boas
• Bronislaw Malinowski
• E.E. Evans-Pritchard
The Professionalization of Social Scientific
Data-Gathering and Analysis
• Franz Boas
• Bronislaw
Malinowski
• E.E. EvansPritchard
• Margaret Mead
• The People of
Puerto Rico
The Professionalization of Social Scientific
Data-Gathering and Analysis
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Franz Boas
Bronislaw Malinowski
E.E. Evans-Pritchard
Margaret Mead
The People of Puerto Rico
Annette Weiner
Barbara Myerhoff
Engaged Anthropology
• Objectivity or Bias?
• Engaged
anthropology:
– Using strategies and
methods of
anthropology to
critique power,
inequality, and address
challenges to local
communities and the
world at large.
How do anthropologists get started
conducting fieldwork?
How do anthropologists get started
conducting fieldwork?
•
•
•
•
Preparation
Strategies
Mapping
Skills and Perspectives
How do anthropologists write ethnography?
Polyvocality
Reflexivity
Tone and Style
Ethnographic
Authority
• Experiments in
Ethnographic
Writing
•
•
•
•
What moral and ethical concerns guide
anthropologists in their research and writing?
What moral and ethical concerns guide
anthropologists in their research and writing?
• Do No Harm
• Obtain Informed Consent
• Ensure Anonymity
How are fieldwork strategies changing in response
to globalization?
How are fieldwork strategies changing in response
to globalization?
• Changes in
Process
• Changes in
Content
The Social Life of Things
• Mardi Gras beads:
– Seen as low-value trinkets
by producers
– Used in lively and colorful
Mardi Gras decoration and
celebration in New Orleans,
Louisiana, USA
• Global journey of these
beads shows the impact of
globalization on local
communities
Concept Check
Horace Miner’s description of the “exotic”
body rituals of the “Nacirema” tribe
illustrates:
a. how anthropology allows us to see our own
culture in a new light.
b. the hygiene practices of an isolated tribe.
c. the role of the “holy-mouth men” in Nacirema
culture.
d. how anthropology can be used to understand
medicine and healing.
Concept Check
The roots of anthropological fieldwork lie in:
a. Franz Boas’s dedication to “salvage anthropology.”
b. Margaret Mead’s role in bringing anthropological
knowledge to bear on public debates.
c. the increased international movement of
Europeans during the late nineteenth century.
d. the need to provide objective, scientific accounts
of isolated cultures.
Concept Check
A successful ethnographer needs:
a. expensive recording equipment.
b. excellent listening skills.
c. a way to maintain strict social distance from the
community.
d. only a short amount of time to fully understand
the local culture.
Chap. 3 Fieldwork and Ethnography Lecture – Study
Guide
Chapter 3 “Fieldwork and Ethnography”
1. Background
In the nineteenth century, when anthropology as a discipline was taking shape, cultural
anthropology did not necessarily involve fieldwork and first-hand observation. Instead,
the so-called armchair anthropologists, mostly in England, Europe, and to a lesser
extent in America, read descriptions of distant cultures written by travelers, colonial
administrators, explorers, and missionaries. While many descriptions were full of rich
detail, they were often ethnocentric and lacked objectivity. Reports by colonial
administrators were not written to answer specific research questions; rather, they were
created to help the colonial rulers better manage the indigenous populations.
It was not until the early twentieth century, that fieldwork gained in importance to
eventually become a common requirement for anyone wishing to pursue cultural
anthropology academically. The product of fieldwork is the ?ethnography?, the written
description of a culture as a whole or some aspect of a culture, based on first-hand
observations and careful research methods. Pioneer ?ethnographers? include ?Bronislaw
Malinowski?, who produced in-depth studies of the Trobriand Islands, ?Franz Boas?, who
studied native North American cultures, and Boas’s student ?Margaret Mead?, who wrote
a ground-breaking work called ?Coming of Age in Samoa? as well as other works dealing
with cultures of South East Asia and Melanesia.
Malinowski, Boas, and others saw indigenous cultures changing rapidly because of
contact with Western cultures and more complex technology. Their concern was to
create a complete record of the indigenous ways of life that would be forever altered.
Thus, they produced extremely detailed ethnographies of a ?holistic ?nature, examining
multiple aspects of peoples’ lives. Their efforts are today referred to as ?salvage
ethnography. ?Mead, who is considered as part of this effort, actually had a more
problem-oriented approach?, and her ethnographic work was guided by several large
questions. Today, ethnographic fieldwork is generally problem oriented. The focus has
narrowed from the older objective of documenting an entire society’s culture to
understanding one or two aspects.
1. Preparing for Fieldwork
As an cultural anthropology major, you spend a good deal of time learning about
methods, techniques, and theory, along with the way other anthropologists have
conducted their fieldwork and the kinds of research questions they have posed. Below,
you can read a list of common fieldwork techniques, and these are described in Chapter
3 as well. By the way, do not be overly concerned whether something is a method or a
technique. You will find that these two terms may be used interchangeably.
A good but older website on one anthropologist’s preparation for and experience of
fieldwork in New Guinea was created by Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi at this link: ?”The
Anthropologist in the Field.” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Zimmer-Tamakoshi describes creating a research proposal for funding, packing for a
lengthy stay in a location with fewer comforts and technology, the culture shock she
experienced, developing rapport with the people whom she studied, her careful method
of recording her experiences, the objectives of her research, and so on.
1. The Ethical Component
A key part of preparation for fieldwork is reviewing the ethical considerations of your
research. The American Anthropological Association, the premier professional
organization for anthropologists in our country, formulated a code of ethics to serve as a
guide. The code is periodically updated. Here is an ethics statement from 2012:
http://ethics.americananthro.org/category/statement/ (Links to an external site.)Links to
an external site.? Number 1 on the list of ethical considerations is the simple statement
“Do No Harm.” But unless you have planned out your fieldwork research well and done
preliminary research (often in libraries) to educate yourself about the people and culture
you wish to study, you could very well do some harm. Many anthropologists have
shared the missteps they made in the early days of their fieldwork, and learning about
these is instructive. Some of the other ethical considerations are to be open and honest
about the nature of your work, do not misrepresent yourself, obtain informed consent
from the people you study, and make the results of your research available to others.
What You Should Know In This Chapter
1. What is unique about ethnographic fieldwork and what kinds of information is
acquired through fieldwork, especially through participant-observation.
2. How does the focus of more recent anthropologists like Annette Weiner and
Barbara Meyerhof contrast with that of Franz Boas, Bronislaw Malinowski, or
E. E. Evans-Pritchard?
3. The main strategies and techniques of ethnographic fieldwork
4. What are the moral and ethical considerations that guide anthropologists in
their research and writing?
5. What is the difference between ethnography and ethnology?
6. What is the difference between emic and etic?

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