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Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Anthropological Reader

Antonius C.G.M. Robben and Jeffrey A. Sluka

Liza Alvarez

on 21 September 2011

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Transcript of Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Anthropological Reader

Ethnographic Fieldwork The Anthropological
Paradigm An Anthropoligical Reader How is Fieldwork a balancing act? Edited by
Antonius C.G.M. Robben and Jeffrey A. Sluka Liza Alvarez
ANTH 400 Fieldwork Can one be too subjective? How much is too much self reflection to still be considered professional and well balanced? Navel Gazing 1. Culture
2. Fieldwork
3. Cross-cultural comparative
4. Ethnography
5. Holistic perspective
6. Eclectic approach
7. Humanistic perspective
8. Scientific approach
9. Combined subjective/objective
perspective What are the
potential benefits and risks of generalizing and defining patterns, "rules" or "laws" about human behavior? Are there any other
paradigms that you
question? Fieldwork Reciprocity When should you intervene?

When is one encroaching upon
the agency of others? Ethics
Morals Poor reputation for ethical behavior
Lack of commitment to the welfare of the people they study
Failure to share the results of their research
Comparitively wealthy by local standards and apparently free to pursue the line of research he or she chooses Resentment
Feeling that some sort of contribution is due Leads to.... ...western anthropology either as a form of espionage or an account of "folklore" and exotic customs perpetuating a totally false image of their national reality and the real problems of their minority groups." Critique of fieldwork - 1970s & 1980s
- Cultural history approach
- Response to the 1960s critique of "neutrality",
"objectivism", "truth" and "reality" in empiricism
- "decolonization" & "reinvention"

- Ruthless autocritique of anthropology
- Fieldwork colonial & imperialistic
- Some abandoned fieldwork Postmodern Turn New Ethnography Postmodernism - Continues today
- Autocriticism led to experimental era
- Phenomenology
- Antithesis to postmodernism
- Reflexive Ethnography 1. Increased awareness of "multivocality" (multiple voices representing multiple interests or "realities"

2. a growing number of works concerned with the ethnographic encounter, with cross-cultural communication, and with making explicit the ways in which fieldwork is conducted and research participants are incorporated into the account.

3. An increased regard for the context and praxis of writing and reading ethnographic "texts" - Oral histories, revisionism - more dynamic & interactive, more transparency - Ethnographies expanding beyond the scope of the written word or "text"

- Self awareness

- consideration for consequences & outcomes of research Narrative
Ethnography - Research participants as active members and co-producers of the study
- direct quotations
- co-authorship

- Fieldworker and area under discussion are presented together within a single narrative ethnography

- Testimonio

- Increased commitment to reciprocity Compassionate Turn - Mid 1990s - today
- Growing opposition to radical postmodern cynicism
- Reassesment of the relationship between anthropologists and the people they study
-"soul-searching" about the morality of fieldwork Fieldwork today - 1 yr PhD fieldwork

- Series of shorter trips (3-6 mo.) during academic career

-Dictated by economics & funding has lead to more Boasian rather than Malinowski fieldwork trips

- Consensual Bias Humanistic
Scientific Culture shock Going
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