Fieldwork and Ethnography

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					Fieldwork and Ethnography
living with people for an extended time to
gather data using a variety of field techniques
for collecting that data
fieldwork & field techniques developed in the
study of smaller scale societies with greater
cultural uniformity compared to large-scale
industrial societies
   the concept of holism
      Before Fieldwork
schooling & training
language acquisition (at school & in
the field)
research proposal
visa, government bureaucracies &
permissions to do fieldwork
changing nature of the rules of
Field Equipment
Medicine, money, and… as field
         Entering the Field
expats (missionaries, other anthros,
international development people)
going “native” types
exceptional locals
culture shock
   refuge from the “natives”
Whose natives?
       Field Techniques: The
       Ethnographic Method
participant-observation - defining
characteristic of cultural anthropology &
its methods of research
first-hand observation of daily behavior;
immersed in daily life
   no other human science does this
what people say & what they do
(Kottak), "The common humanity of
  the student and the studied, the
 ethnographer and the researched
   community, makes participant
      observation inevitable."
(Malinowski), “…, in this type of work, it is
good for the ethnographer sometimes to
put aside camera, note book and pencil,
and to join in himself in what is going on."
    Surveys & Interviews
2 techniques of asking questions &
eliciting responses
quantitative vs. qualitative methods
 enumerated/statistical
 descriptive/ interpretive
structured closed-ended questionnaires
genealogical method/genealogies
statistical analysis
   who administers
structured open-ended
spontaneous & planned
Ethnographic vs. Survey Research

 study whole functioning community
 vs. a sample
 develop rapport
 totality of an informant's life-context
 context & thick description
 adds depth to survey data (i.e.
 kinship genealogies)
            Life History
recollections of lifetime experiences
identify important life turns for a culture
indicates the diversity of experience
within what appears to be a society of
cultural uniformity
problem with remembering in the present
Notions of narrative and history
what is a "well informed informant"?
   compared to who?
the relationships between
ethnographer & informant
   relations of power
trust, friendship, economic contract,
learning, adopted as family member,
prestige for both
Anthropology in pairs and such…
Emic – local knowledge: how people
think, perceive, categorize the world;
what has meaning in their world-the
natives point of view
Etic -- shift focus from the native's point
of view to that of the anthropologist
Type of knowledge – intersubjective
A self consciousness about the impact on the
data produced in the context of doing
fieldwork and writing culture
how the anthropologist effects the
thoughts, actions of informants
how the ethnocentrism of the anthro
colors the interpretation and final
representation of others thinking &
Paul Rabinow on Reflexive
Field data are constructs of the process by
which we acquire them -- intersubjective
The problem is a “hermeneutical one”
   hermeneutic – interpretation ... “as the
    comprehension of self by the detour of the
    comprehension of the other”
Fieldwork is dialectic
           Ali & Rabinow
“highlighting, identification, and analysis also
disturbed Ali’s usual patterns of experience.
forced to reflect on his own activities and
objectify them [as an informant].
began to develop an art of presenting his
world to me
But the more we engaged in such activity, the
more he experienced aspects of his own life
in new ways.”
 Reflexive Knowledge and
  Doing Anthropology as
    Negotiated Reality
a mutually constructed ground of
experience and understanding
an acknowledgement of the dialogue
between the anthropologist and the
informant in the experience of
         Negotiated Reality
anthropologists are historically situated
through the questions we ask and the manner
we seek to understand and experience the
anthropologists receive from our informants
their interpretations that are also mediated by
culture and history
the data is doubly mediated
   first by presence of the anthropologist
   Then by a second order self-reflection of our
fieldwork is an experience in
a  kind of social relationship
 risky business
Anthropology and the Ethics of
Anthropological researchers, teachers and
practitioners are members of many different
communities, each with its own moral rules or
codes of ethics
In both proposing and carrying out research,
anthropological researchers must be open
about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and
source(s) of support for research projects
with funders, colleagues, persons studied or
providing information, and with relevant
parties affected by the research.
     Ethics and Informant
Anthropological researchers have
primary ethical obligations to the
people, species, and materials they
study and to the people with whom they
 avoid harm or wrong
 respect the well-being
 consult actively with the affected
  individuals or group(s)
  Fieldwork and Informed
Anthropological researchers should
obtain in advance the informed consent
of persons being studied, providing
information, owning or controlling
access to material being studied, or
otherwise identified as having interests
which might be impacted by the
  Ethics Beyond the Field
Responsibility to scholarship and
Responsibility to the public
Responsibility to students and trainees