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lecture_2_2 - Ethnography 1 INTRO Originally people who...

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Ethnography 1. INTRO Originally people who studied cultures were amateurs who happened to either be particularly observant or who happened to travel a lot. Some of them did more or less what people did today. a. Ibn Khaldun was a famous Arab scholar who did observations of everyone, including the Vikings. b. For example, the Jesuit Missionaries in Canada the 17 th century would sense reports back to their superiors in France, partly as propaganda to get more missionaries to come out. Compiled something like 42 volumes of detailed descriptions of native life. i. A famous Franciscan missionary in Mexico in the 16 th century had a kind of ethnographic sweatshop. Had a whole group of natives who worked with him. He produced many studies of Aztec language and culture over the years c. So the impulse to write about your own culture or someone else’s culture is not a new idea. 2. MODERN ETHNOGRAPHY Ethnography as we know it is a product of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. a. As anthropologist started to become more professionalized, a lot of projects were carried out on expeditions. They’d travel to a foreign country, pay the natives to stage dances and rituals for them, talk to a few people and then go home again after a few weeks or months. b. Here in the states, some studies became more long term with the establishment of the Bureau of American Ethnography c. But mostly we give credit to the start of ethnography to a famous Polish- Brittish anthropologist named Bronislaw Malinowski. i. During WWI was beginning to study people in New Guinea and the nearby islands. He had to give his word of honor that he wouldn’t work for the Germans, put on parole and could study the Trobriand Islanders.
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ii. Wrote a series of very long books. One of the first great field workers. iii. Insisted that you had to live with the people you studied and learn their language and immerse yourself in their lives. This became one of the main tenants of fieldwork. iv. After he died, his second wife published his diary and we found out that Malinowski didn’t always practice what he preached. He spent a lot of time flirting with the wives of missionaries, obsessing about his mother and sitting in his tent. He had servants and talked about the natives using the English word “nigger”. d. Malinowski had a student named E.E. Evans-Pritchard who studied the Nuer. Had it rough. People didn’t trust him, had a hard time doing interviews, and couldn’t connect with the people. But his descriptions of fieldwork set the standard of what fieldwork should be. 3.
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