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The Rashomon Effect: When Ethnographers Disagree

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Daisy Leach

on 27 September 2016

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Transcript of The Rashomon Effect: When Ethnographers Disagree

The Rashomon Effect
"The Rashomon Effect: When Ethnographers Disagree"
Are 'pioneering anthropologists' self-made?
What is the Rashomon Effect?
1950 Japanese movie made by Akira Kurosawa
set in 12th century Japan
showing a shared reality between four characters (a bandit, a samurai, the samurai's wife and a woodcutter), but the differences in their realities of the event.
the movie showed the event from the four character's own perspectives
this can be applied to ethnographic work and how different people can draw different conclusions from the same society.
'Someone is wrong'
The answer to a disagreement may not be one or the other, but rather a mix of the two conclusions, or something completely different
Raoul Naroll- working with the Human Relation Area Files
focus on the "problem of ethnographic error"- look for ethnographer bias that can result in errors within published ethnographies
Naroll's most famous ethnography is from 1962 and involves the presence or absence of witchcraft attribution
concluded that ethnographers are more likely to report witchcraft after spending a year or longer in the field
'They are looking at different cultures or subcultures'
confusion can arise when using one name for groups of people that differ vastly
confusion can also arise by generalizing an entire society based on a small data set looking at one part of the population
in most societies, there are enough class or occupational differences to create different views of the same situation
'They are refering to the same culture at different times'
Not only can ethnographers report differences in cultures because of the linear sense of time, but also when ethnographers step into a culture at different phases of a cultural cycle.
Philosopher John Ladd completed fieldwork with the Navajo in the winter
concluded that there were many Navajo ethics that are only spoken or shown in the winter
By Daisy Leach
'They are looking differently at the same culture'
'They are looking differently at the same culture' continued
By Karl G Heider
A) different personalities of ethnographers
B) differeny value systems of ethnographers
C) different cultures of ethnographers
D) other traits of ethnographers
E) different theoretical orientations or research plans

F) situations when ethnographers change his/her interpretations over time
G) different lengths of time in the field
H) different knowledge of language, or knowledge of different languages
I) different degrees of raport or understanding
J) different previous fieldwork- "carryover"
What do we need to know to resolve contradictions between ethnographers?
What do we need to know to understand an ethnography?
Pioneering anthropologists appear to have been 'self-made' through their own conclusions- most of which had been wrongly drawn due to ethnographic bias
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