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SCA Unit 2

Nick Martino

on 16 October 2015

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Transcript of Fieldwork

Father of modern anthropology in USA
Believed anthropologists can achieve a level of detachment by practicing cultural relativity
To him, cultural relativism was an ethical mandate as well as a strategic methodology for understanding other cultures

British/Polish anthropologist
Believed one of the most fundamental requirements of each society is to see that the basic physiological needs of its people are met
Made organic analogy popular.
Organic Analogy:
early functionalists idea that cultural systems are integrated into a whole central unit

Choosing an appropriate site
Stick with one role (student, professor, etc.)
Getting an insider’s perspective
Proceed slowly, don't just jump into huge waves
Problems in recoding data
(when your ready to learn come back without a notebook)

Selecting a research problem:

Formulating the research design/placement:

Collecting / Recording Data

Analyzing / Interpreting the Data

Some thought it would misuse social research to crush revolution movement

$6 million project funded by U.S Army 1964 for social research on a rebellion

Project Camelot

It is thought that U.S Anthropologists secretly engaged in counterinsurgency for the Pentagon in Vietnam War

the use of anthropology for the wrong reasons and against the law


Participant Observation

Androcentric Bias
Fieldwork Practice & Transgressions
AAA Statement on Ethics
is a research process in which the anthropologist closely observes, records, and engages in the daily life of another culture - an experience labeled as fieldwork method -- and then writes accounts of this culture, emphasizing descriptive detail.
- Marcus and Fischer 1986, p. 18
Believe that different cosmos exists of four parallel planes or layers.
Shamans cast spells and heal people
The mortuary ceremony, reahu, is the most important ceremony.
Shows respect for the dead and is even more elaborate for warriors who died in battle.


Generally live in villages consisting of family
Practice polgyny
Celebrate new harvest with a big feast and may extend invitations to other villages.
Speak Gŭycan


Village size may consist of 60-400 people.
All members live under one roof, called the shabono.
Individual houses are partitioned by walls under roof.
If a person disagrees with decisions of the rest of the group, they may leave and begin their own village.

Social/Political Organization

Slash-and-burn horticulture.
Grow bananas
Gather fruit
Hunt animals and fish


People generally reside with family groups.
Polgymous families based on a large patrifocal family unit and smaller matrifocal family units.
Children stay close to their mother



Women do the majority of child rearing.
Men hunt and fish
Young boys are taught to fight and may take part in overtaking villages.

Haximu Massacre in 1993
Ethical controversy of testing Yanomamo blood.
Napoleon Chagnon made the Yanomamo well known.


The Yanomamo live in South America, in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil and Venezuela.


Anthropologist: Richard Lee
Year: 2003
Geography: Kalahari Desert, Botswana
Subsistence: Hunter-Gatherers
You are an anthropologist going into the field, what are some things that you should consider/take care of before you leave your home country.
Modern anthropologists now look more at problem oriented research. Coming up with a good research question.

What will you be measuring and how?

Data collection techniques like Participant Observation and interviews

Is the original hypothesis confirmed?

Most widely used technique
Share in activities, attend ceremonies
Become a part of the rhythm of every day life.
Methods of Fieldwork Series:

Dobe Ju/hoansi.
Bronislaw Malinowski
Franz Boas
Share the Native Point of View
A.R. Radcliffe-Brown
Structural Functionalism
social integration -- how every institution in a society contributed to the overall social totality (Eriksen)
 Theory that institutions function to support the entire society OR that they function to serve the needs of individuals.
 Malinowski says its individuals
 Radcliffe-Brown says cultural elements like religion reinforce the social structure of a society by making individuals dependent.
1930s Anthro Debate
Structural Functionalism
Teacher of EE Evans -Pritchard
Cultural Materialism
Teacher of Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, Claude Levi-Strauss
Eriksen 58
Argonauts of the Western Pacific, 1922
Social Organization of Australian Tribes, 1931
Annette Weiner
Women of Value, Men of Renown 1976
India's sacred Cow 1965
People don't know why they do things, thats why an anthropologists superior etic explanations are important.
he says that emically, cows are sacred for religious reasons
etically ... they are sacred bc their special status is
economically and ecologically functional

many anthropologists don't accept this bc why wouldn't
more animals be sacred across the world
if this were the case
Malinowski saw society as a structure that functioned to meet the needs of the individual
Malinowski: Funeral meets psychological needs of the individual
Radcliffe-Brown: Funeral creates social solidarity of the group
The context for paradigm change:
1940-50s post-WW II breakup of colonial empires, civil rights movement
World conflicts over economic resources, expansion of the world market system

Anthropologists observed the impact of colonialism & capitalist expansion on indigenous peoples
Interest shifted to how the drive for material resources, political & economic power affected people

Shift from equilibrium (synchronic) to change (diachronic)

Emphasis on positivist approach—testing hypotheses, measurable, quantifiable data

Cultural materialists assumed the way people organize to make a living from the environment determines their technology, social & political organization, belief system

This is a materialist approach drawn from Karl Marx's Historical Materialism (1818-1883)

Marxian Model

Economic Base
Socio-Political Structure
Ideological Superstructure
Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea studied again ...
Show DVD
Marvin Harris
Ideas from Karl Marx
Orderly world vs. Chaotic world
Conflict Theory
History develops through a series of class conflicts
The unequal distribution of wealth & power creates conflicts
Cultural evolution is a history of the evolution of modes of production
Paradigm change:
Marx in a nutshell ...
Cultural Relativism
is often described as an orientation within the philosophy of science, which denies the possibility of acquiring "true" knowledge about the world.
Savage Minds, 2012
Video Ethnography


The following videos are for homework.
Stop after you finish the Yanamamo section.

Watch/comment on this video:
Watch/comment on this video:
Watch/comment on this video:
Watch/comment on this video:
"A Man Called Bee" by Napoleon Chagnon 1974
[26 mins]
Watch this entire video
Change and Transformation

Because of location, generally not a lot of change or influence from other cultures.
Now increased contact with illegal loggers.
Chagnon brought modern technologies to villages during his case study,
which brought forth a bit of change.

Optional Watch, interview w Chagnon in his elder years.
Full transcript