Wk 2 Ethnography 1-23-08

Wk 2 Ethnography 1-23-08 - Wk.2: The Anthropological Method...

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Wk.2: The Anthropological Method Key Terms: ethnocentrism fieldwork participant observation ethnography thick description
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From What to How? Last week: What is culture ? (the conceptual question) What is it about humans that anthropologists are trying to describe or interpret, explain, or defend? This week: How do I learn about culture ?
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Review: The Work of the Anthropologist What is Cultural Anthropology? Anthropology is a discipline concerned with the interpretation and analysis of culture. As a field, anthropology specializes in ethnography.
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Ethnography Written description and interpretation of a culture and a set of cultural practices. What does it mean to “describe”? Who is doing the describing? Who is being described?
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Clifford Geertz: Thick Description Clifford Geertz, “Interpretation of Cultures,” 1973 Geertz suggests that ethnography is best understood as “thick description”
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A “wink” vs. a “Twitch” A twitch might be a reflex movement or might mean you have something in your eye A wink is full of meaning: Deliberate Aimed at someone in particular Is meant to communicate a message Fits into a wider code of recognizable meaning Indicates an inside knowledge or private joke between winker and recipient Describing the rich meaning around cultural behavior is the objective of thick description which involves the careful interpretation of observed
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How does one do ethnography? Ethnographic Methods Fieldwork: The immersion of the anthropologist in the lives of the people he or she is trying to understand
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What is fieldwork? What is fieldwork? The act of entering the stream of life of the culture the anthropologist wants to understand What is the goal of fieldwork?: “ to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world” (Malinowski: Argonauts of the Western Pacific 1984; orig. 1922)
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How to prepare for such an immersion? Learn the language Read what others have written Study the history Study the geography Take initial trip to set up basic conditions: housing, transportation, clothing, etc. Excerpt from “Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel” by Elenore Smith Bowen
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Guest of the Sheik: “I am not an anthropologist.” Why does Elizabeth Fernea say “I am not an anthropologist?”
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Guests of the Sheik: What Fernea did not Do “Before going to Iraq, I knew no Arabic and almost nothing of the Middle East, its religion and its culture.”
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This note was uploaded on 05/15/2010 for the course ANT 302 taught by Professor Seriff during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Wk 2 Ethnography 1-23-08 - Wk.2: The Anthropological Method...

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