a203-11f-07-AnthMethodsEthnographyPartI - Introduction to...

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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 7 Anthropological methods: Ethnography, part I Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - How anthropologists actually learn about cultures: by doing ethnography - Today’s readings by Lee and Malinowski should give you a small taste of doing fieldwork - much as the Fernea readings have been doing - Let’s start with a bit of a classic ethnography from the early years of the field: Bronislaw Malinowski’s Argonauts of the Western Pacific , first published in 1922 - the class web page has a link to the entire book online - the book is about people of the Trobriand Islands - where Malinowski was stuck during WWII, because he was a Polish citizen in English- controlled territory - (England was at war with Poland) - some of his ways of expressing things are old fashioned and no longer acceptable - some of his language sounds racist, like “the white man” and “the native”, even though he was certainly not racist - some of it sounds arrogant or condescending, like his own “mind striving after the objective, scientific view of things”, versus “untrained minds, unaccustomed to formulate their thoughts with any degree of consistency and precision” - Malinowski starts off conversing with the Trobrianders in pidgin English - pidgin : a “contact language”, usually a mix of two languages - (in this case, the Trobriand language and English) - with limited vocabulary and simplified grammar - usually develops and used only in contact situations between people who do not otherwise share a language - usually fine for trade and basic tasks, but poor for communicating more subtle ideas - he makes little headway as long as he keeps living with “some neighboring white man” - instead, Malinowski developed the outlines of what we now call the method of participant observation - Malinowski’s three secrets for successful anthropological fieldwork: - 1. Have scientific aims - he explains and implies elsewhere what this means: - your purpose is to understand the people and explain them to others, not judge or ridicule them - recognize that they are just as human and intelligent as you are - and that they think and behave as they do for understandable reasons - not just because they are childish or ignorant - the ethnographer’s task is to figure out these reasons, the logic, the “skeleton” of the culture that allows us to understand it - have some general theoretical issues in mind to investigate - such as the nature of religion or magic - the nature of economic exchange, etc. - but do not begin with preconceived notions
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Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Anthropological methods: Ethnography, Part I p. 2 - 2. Live with the people you are studying, not with others like yourself - otherwise you will simply not see and experience the events that will help you understand their culture - this is the part that he elaborates on in your extract - by not being able to retreat to the company of people of your own culture, you are forced
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a203-11f-07-AnthMethodsEthnographyPartI - Introduction to...

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