This may be due to difficulties in obtaining funding and high university fees, as well as a trend towards more policy-oriented research, often as part of a multi-disciplinary research group. I interviewed a range of social workers and bureaucrats handling adoption applications, politicians who formed legislation, the NGOs that actually provided the supply of children, prospective parents and parents with adopted children, and adoptees themselves. Ethnographic fieldwork is thus performed in active relationship with anthropological theory.Â. Some may be more interested in untangling the underlying sociality of their own world (see, e.g., Okely & Callaway 1996, Lewin & Leap 1996). An ethnographic study seeks to come to grips with the complex socio-cultural institutions and practices that are more or less taken for granted by the people themselves. Ana M. Araujo (Section 01) Description. Ethnography involves hands-on, on-the-scene learning — and it is relevant wherever people are relevant. The lawyer-ethnographer L.H. Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as ANTH-230. [2] The expression ‘the native’s point of view’ is as applicable to the study of middle-class managers in a German town as it is to a South Sea island community. Ethnographic fieldwork used to be more open-ended than it is today, when increasingly anthropologists go to the field with a particular research question in mind. Participatory and embodied knowledge. Participant observation is one type of data collection method by practitioner-scholars typically used in qualitative research and ethnography.This type of methodology is employed in many disciplines, particularly anthropology (incl. Religion, kinship, and marriage practices as well as technology were the chief criteria for allocating a particular social group a place on the evolutionary ladder. The practical business of doing participant-observation fieldwork here was very different from the previous two. Coming of age in Samoa. London: Athlone. Chisungu: a girl’s initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Zambia. Ethnography is today used for both the actual fieldwork during which the anthropologist collects material, and the subsequent text – an ethnography. Their research was undertaken in their offices in British universities - not out in the bush - where they developed their theories of the evolution of culture. And, according to Malinowski, the final goal is ‘to grasp the native’s point of view, his relations to life, to realise his vision of his world’ (1922: 25, original emphasis). In France one talks of ethnologie or anthropologie sociale and in Germany it used to be Völkerkunde. The continued practice of participant-observation ethnography and the resulting theoretical development of the discipline of anthropology since that time clearly refute Giddens’ claim. Ethnography is a methodology with more than one hundred years of history. The golden bough: a study in comparative religion. – that gives anthropology its special identity and that which distinguishes it from the other social sciences. With the rapid spread of mobile telephones and internet, communication may be maintained with many field sites after the ethnographer has returned home. Being there: the fieldwork encounter and the making of truth. Over the years the approach to writing ethographies has changed. & G. E. Marcus (eds) 1986. At the same time, ethnography is just an empty practice without a concern for the disciplinary debates in anthropology departments and publications. Only through familiarity with local values and practices will the magic of serendipity come into play. This module is an introduction to ethnographic fieldwork and analysis and is intended for students in fields other than anthropology. The following is a useful definition of ethnography: ‘the recording and analysis of a culture or society, usually based on participant-observation and resulting in a written account of a people, place or institution’ (Simpson & Coleman 2017). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Spencer, J. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. That was a time when intellectual life was heavily influenced by the theories of evolution developed by Charles Darwin (1970 [1859]). Thinking as a moral act: ethical implications of anthropological fieldwork in the new states. His major work, Systems of consanguinity and affinity of the human family (1871) was widely read and highly influential; amongst its readers were Marx and also Engels, whose work, The origins of the family, private property and the state (1902 [1884]) drew directly upon Morgan’s work. Ethnography is an end in itself; it is not a means to anthropological ends. She has published widely based on her three fieldworks. London: Macmillan & Co. Geertz, C. 1968. Writing culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography. Such paradoxes become apparent only through long-term fieldwork. Not everybody goes to the jungles of South America or Southeast Asia, the villages of sub-Saharan Africa, India or the Middle East, the islands of the Pacific or far-flung Arctic settlements. However, while such methods are shared by other disciplines, anthropologists argue that they gain a different and more holistic and profound understanding when they engage in a participant-observation regime. However, American anthropology got a powerful kick in a new direction  – a direction in which ethnographic fieldwork became an essential part –  when the German anthropologist Franz Boas established an anthropology department at Columbia University in New York in 1899. 1964. Ethnographic Methods. In his epilogue, ‘Notes on the future of anthropology’, to the volume of the same title edited by Ahmed and Shore (1995), the sociologist Anthony Giddens argues that anthropology has nothing unique to offer, that with the ‘disappearance of the exotic’ and the fall of colonialism, the distinctiveness of anthropology is under threat. Wolcott (1999) defines ethnography is a description of “the customary social behaviors of an identifiable group of people”. Our ethnographic research has involved both innovative engagement and solid grounding in multiple anthropological traditions. Royal Anthropological Institute (available on-line: www.discoveranthropology.org.uk). Lewin, E. & W.L. Oxford: Berghahn Books. My eyes had been trained to look in seemingly irrelevant places, my mind was open to notice the seemingly insignificant moments and make use of the unexpected.Â, The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Anthropology is an open access resource. To many inside and outside anthropology, policy-oriented research may today seem more ideologically correct, more useful and relevant in a rapidly changing world, than simply setting off for the Highlands of New Guinea. In Anthropology and autobiography (ASA Monograph 29) (eds) J. Okely & H. Callaway. He further considers ‘how recent trends in anthropology might coalesce in a further shift, this one toward an anthropology of the good capable of recovering some of the critical force of an earlier anthropology without taking on its weaknesses (Robbins 2013: 447). That is why language is important; anthropologists try not to work with interpreters. The origins of the family, private property and the state. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co. Firth, R. 1959. It is first and foremost the fieldwork method of participant-observation and the kinds of anthropological questions, debates, and analyses that spring out of it as these are embedded in an holistic analysis – questions about social production, and the cultural meaning of, for example: kinship, sociality, labour, money, exchange, social stratification, conflict, authority, gender etc. The key word here is fieldwork. Despite their important theoretical differences, they had one thing in common: a commitment, through ethnographic fieldwork, to explore social, cultural, cognitive, and moral forms of life in places far from home – geographically and culturally. London: John Murray. Two more points are worth making in regard to the postmodern critique of ethnographic practice in the South. Antioch Review 28, 139-58. The aim was, and is, to use that knowledge to address overarching theoretical questions concerning the variety and similarity of human life as this is manifested through kinship, religion, classification, economic, and political life. Studies that throw light upon alien practices and values often lead to self-examination. They also use elicitation techniques similar to those employed by typological linguists interested in … [3] The desire to untangle the ‘unknown’ is not always the driving force behind an ethnographic venture. At the same time, the notion of ‘exotic’ is being challenged as anthropologists study a range of urban communities in the Global North as well as in the Global South. Some go to urban areas on the same continents, others find places or topics in the Global North. While this is still the case to a large extent, today many anthropologists have directed their ethnographic gaze toward communities closer to home. Ethnography is the primary method of social and cultural anthropology, but it is integral to the social sciences and humanities generally, and draws its methods from many quarters, including the … As a result of these two aspects of the critique, many chose instead to do historical archival studies or studies ‘at home’ or so-called ‘dialogical studies’ (Borneman & Hammoudi 2009). Fall 2012 Ethnographic Methods. 1989. Full participation may be a fantasy. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Together these two concerns add up to a general desire to explore the unknown[3]: whether geographically, socially, culturally, or intellectually. Perhaps that is the answer? & S. Coleman 2017. The advent of new technologies for the electronic recording of sounds and actions has broadened the range of phenomena that can be studied, increased our analytical sophistication, and, at the same time, multiplied the number of technical, political, and moral problems that a fieldworker must confront. [2] The task of the ethnographer is to contextualise insight of local values and practices within wider local significations, and to render them probable; to show how theirs is a meaningful alternative as a way of life. He goes on to state that: [a] discipline which deals with an evaporating subject matter, staking claim to a method which it shares with the rest of the social sciences anyway, and deficient in theoretical traditions […] does not exactly add up to defensible identity of anthropology today (Giddens 1995: 274). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4(1), 338-95. It is the ability to make discoveries, by accidents and wisdom, of things which one was not in quest of. However, many were critical of Writing culture’s assertions. These were, it was argued, pretending to provide an objective picture of the communities studied, on par with scientific research, whereas fieldwork is highly personal and idiosyncratic and findings are coloured by the training and personality of the anthropologist. Systems of consanguinity and affinity of the human family. Anthropology Museums and Museum Anthropology. They apply not just to those undertaking ‘exotic’ fieldwork in small communities far away, but equally to those studying groups or institutions in their own country. Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as ANTH-230 Moodle site: Course (Guest Accessible) Faculty. Malinowski and the birth of British social anthropology. Write an ethnographic account that is authentic and credible. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge. Cultural data assumes the form of directly observable material items, individual behaviors, performances, ideas and arrangements that exist only in people's heads. Anthropology is a discipline of amazement; knowledge of other peoples’ lives obtained during ethnographic fieldwork never ceases to astonish, even stupefy the ethnographer. This is the premise for how they perform their fieldwork – wherever that may be – and this is the basis for their writings. The job of the anthropologist is to demonstrate the many ways that humans imaginatively create socio-cultural worlds. History of ethnographic methods Ethnography has its origins in social anthropology, and in particular, the work of Malinowski whose seminal text Argonauts of the Western Pacific describes his experience of living for a long time with South Pacific islanders, and counsels the anthropologist to spend at least a year in the field, to learn the language, and to live as one of the population which he or she studies. While anthropologists are endlessly debating the premises for their understanding of different societies, they mostly agree that anthropology has nothing to offer the world without ethnographic fieldwork. Princeton: University Press. Regardless of whether the fieldwork is in an Indonesian village or a large company in a European city, that is what anthropologists strive to achieve. First, most who have carried out fieldwork in rural areas of Asia, Africa, or Latin America do not agree that they ‘study down’ in any post-colonial sense. In recent years, equally high-quality ethnographic fieldwork continues to be undertaken in New Guinea and Oceania, not least inspired by the work of Marilyn Strathern (1989), as well as in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, which has impacted contemporary theory. Anthropologists will still claim that only the very nature of their ethnographic method of long-term participant observation can provide a unique contribution to knowledge about other life-worlds. Many would agree and argue that for this to be achieved, the comparative ambition of anthropology must be cherished. Mead, M. 1928. Check if you have access via personal or institutional login. Anyone who has travelled in Central or Southeast Asia, Melanesia, or the African continent knows that there is no shortage of potentially interesting localities in which to settle in order to conduct in-depth anthropological fieldwork. His chapter on methods in the book The Argonauts of Western Pacific became the ‘bible’ for British ethnographers/anthropologists of his own and subsequent generations: The field ethnographer has seriously and soberly to cover the full extent of the phenomena in each aspect of tribal culture studied, making no difference between what is commonplace, or drab, or ordinary and what strikes him as astonishing and out-of-the way (1922: 11). Multi-temporal fieldwork enables the ethnographer to follow the community through times of change, and to record their reactions to outside influences – economic, technological, and social – that challenge old values and practices. That is, they argued that each culture should be studied according to its own beliefs and values, that there is nothing essentially human that transcends culture. Chicago: University Press.Â. It is only through this that ‘thick description’ becomes possible. Again, ‘savage and exotic’ beliefs and practices were the focus for their studies, but they were analyzed in sociological terms, unlike the British and Americans (see below) who tended to look to the individual actor. Malinowski’s studies from the Trobriand Islands is a prime example. [1] This is how anthropologists understand the world. Questioning who had replaced the ‘other’ as a result of this critique, Robbins suggested that the ‘suffering other’ at home had become the legitimate subject for anthropological ethnographic investigation (Robbins 2013). Open-ended interviews and focus groups do not replace the insights obtained from twenty-four hour / twenty months of  informed ‘hanging around’. Anthropology is an academic discipline that constructs its intellectual imaginings upon empirical-based knowledge about human worlds. Man (N.S.) Dresch 1992). Robbins, J. Nevertheless, most anthropologists would agree that it is an ambition which is central to the future identity of the discipline. But every anthropologist, whether a graduate student or professor, writes in their research proposal that participant-observation will be the major method to be pursued. When all is said and done, some form of cultural relativism remains the discipline’s trade mark. [1] This potential confusion of the two terms is most commonly found in Anglo-Saxon anthropology. Ethnography definition, a branch of anthropology dealing with the scientific description of individual cultures. She seeks to participate in daily and ceremonial life, preferably as a contributor as she becomes affiliated to a household or some other local group, and all the while she will observe, ask questions, and take notes. Little, W., H. W. Fowler & J. Coulson. In Anthropology and cultural studies (eds) S. Nugent & C. Shore, 103-125. London: Pluto Press. With the exception of occasional references to practical questions, this chapter will emphasize the logic of research habits and procedures rather than the technical solutions needed to solve common research problems. Through all these activities, and several more, I hoped to build up a holistic understanding of the complex picture of the practice of transnational adoption from the point of view of the many actors involved (Howell 2006). Current understandings of both anthropology and ethnography are the result of years of debate and practice. In The future of anthropology: its relevance to the contemporary world (eds) A.S. Ahmed & C. Shore, 272-7. See more. Essential perplexities. Due to a decrease in funding and pressure on publishing, PhD students as well as academic staff are having to change their research practice. Marilyn Strathern is reported to have said that anthropologists study social relationships by making social relationships. Ethnographic fieldwork is the method that defines social anthropology. This is how anthropology differs from the other social sciences. Perhaps the most famous of his students was Margaret Mead, whose ethnography based on participant-observation study of teenage girls on Samoa (1928) created a lot of attention and debate in America. Through a holistic investigation in which patterns of behavior, utterances, and actions are contextualised and placed in relation to each other, a world view[4] may be detected: ideas about human nature, gender, family, economy, politics and religion become discernible. Ethnographic field work is the primary methodology employed by anthropologists, although other disciplines such as cultural studies and sociology may also employ ethnographic methods. Â. Okely, J. Anthropology as cultural critique: an experimental moment in human sciences. This course will explore ethnographic field methods and techniques as well as the … It arose in the Western world as a particular form of knowledge about distant cultures (typically non … Needham, R. 1978. Ethnography is a qualitative research method that comes from the discipline of anthropology but is applicable to other disciplines. Having said that, the empirical focus for ethnographic research is in flux. © 2020 Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology. This is the key to render alternative solutions to the organization of social and cultural life meaningful and understandable to the outsiders. Kwakiutl ethnography (ed. The British and the French armchair anthropologists were extremely well-read about ‘primitive’ customs and beliefs, but they had never visited, let alone lived in, one of the ‘exotic’ social groups that they claimed to study. This gave rise to the so-called nature or nurture debate that, in some form or other, is still with us today. 2 vols. In order to achieve that, the comparative ambition of anthropology must be maintained. On Historical Principles. 3rd edition. ‘Qualitative research’ is not the same as ethnography. Multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork arose as a response to new topics for anthropological investigation, such as the study of reproduction and reproductive technologies, new modes of electronic communication such as internet and mobile telephones, transnational adoption, and local mobility and migration. The Khoisan peoples of South Africa. Glossary of Terms. All rights reserved. The method is based on the paradox of participating fully in peoples’ lives, while simultaneously observing them from a distance. Howell, S. 1997. I am convinced that had I not had the experience of doing fieldwork twice previously, I would not have been able to complete my research on transnational adoption in Norway. These demands are met through two major research techniques: participant observation … Champaign: University of Illinois Press. Ethnographic fieldwork demonstrated beyond doubt that there was no basis for maintaining the evolutionary model of human mentality. Here, ethnography will be used in the former sense, and this entry will seek to unravel the complexities that are hidden in the seemingly simple definition. Moreover, participant observation is an anthropological way of working, not a method of ethnographic … As they settle in unfamiliar and often uncomfortable circumstances, the relationship may be an unequal power relationship, but not in the sense the critics argued. Anthropology as a kind of writing. In 2019, ethnography is a methodology (think: practice that involves combining multiple research methods in order to best answer a question or questions), and … In a few cases, I will briefly discuss what I consider some of the most innovative and interesting ways of documenting the role of communication in the constitution of culture. 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