AN101Morocco

AN101Morocco - Pursuing a Paradox Christopher DiMaria...

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Pursuing a Paradox Christopher DiMaria February 4, 2008 Intro to Cult. Anthro. AN101-001, Prof. Silva
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Figure 1 People (informants) Events and milieux Time (change) Pursuing a Paradox Pursuing a Paradox “This book is an account of my experiences in Morroco; it is also an essay about anthropology. I have tried to break through the double-bind which has defined anthropology in the past” (Rabinow 1977:4) In Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco , Paul Rabinow illustrates how anthropology is not only the task of collecting objective data from the culture, or field, in which research is conducted, but that it is also an experiential discipline subjective to interaction (i.e.-relationships) in the field. Many anthropologists define this phenomenon as participant observation , and therein divide into factions debating whether or not it is possible to collect data in the field while being fully engaged in the events observed. Rabinow begins unraveling this double-bind, or paradox, of participant observation using his personal experiences in Morocco in conjunction with the pedagogy and philosophy of contemporary anthropology. To do this Rabinow had to look at both the macro and micro of his ethnographic research. This includes bias in the testimony of his informants in addition to his personal relationships with them and the surrounding milieux (environment). Rabinow also had to accept and use the fact that we are living, changing humans in living changing cultures as interpreted by this three-dimensional compendium of time, people, and events in the field [figure 1]. 2
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With Rabinow’s perspective in mind, anthropologists must first define what fieldwork is if a subsequent argument is to be made for or against the double-bind. In its elementary definition fieldwork is “being in the field” (Wolcott 1995: 65), and even Rabinow expresses this notion when he says, “Actually, it was not exactly clear to me what that (fieldwork) meant, except that I supposed I would wander around Sefrou a bit. After all, now that I was in the field, everything was fieldwork.” (Rabinow 1977:11) However, one cannot assume the role of fieldwork by physical existence alone. It is imperative that any researcher be immersed within the culture’s social activities personally to have any data that constitutes fieldwork; “The essence of fieldwork is revealed in the intent behind it.” (Wolcott 1995:66)
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AN101Morocco - Pursuing a Paradox Christopher DiMaria...

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