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Method and Theory in Cultural Anthropology

by: Carina Sauter

Method and Theory in Cultural Anthropology ANTH 1102

Marketplace > University of Georgia > anthropology, evolution, sphr > ANTH 1102 > Method and Theory in Cultural Anthropology
Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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About this Document

These notes discuss Dr. Birch's lecture on cultural anthropology and how anthropologists go about finding information in the field and what ethical rules they must follow.
Introduction to Anthropology
Dr. Birch
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Wednesday March 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1102 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Birch in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 21 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Georgia.

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Date Created: 03/23/16
Method and Theory in Cultural Anthropology • Key Questions: • Where and how do cultural anthropologists do fieldwork? • What are some of the ways of studying modern societies? • What theories have guided cultural anthropology through the years? • Ethnography: • From the Greek “folk” or “people” • The scientific description of the customs of peoples and cultures • Texts anthropologists produce are called ethnographies § Ethnographers: • Franz Boas – Kwakiutl Ethnography • E.E. Evans Pritchard – The Nuer • Bronislaw Malinowski – Argonauts of the Western Pacific • Margaret Mead – Coming of Age in Samoa • Early anthropologists and “disappearing cultures” • Focused on documenting exotic/primitive people • Armchair anthropologists § “Primitive” people were brought to, for example, the US and told to “do their culture” – living exhibits • The ethnographic present • People don’t die/disappear – they change • Changed by incorporating modern iteams § Ex. cloth • Bronislaw Malinowski and Participant Observation • Western Pacific • Known as one of the earliest adaptors of participant observation § Put self in culture and fully participate just as much § Covering ceremonial trade of gifts in Papa New Guinea • Margaret Mead • Studying Samoa, Bali, Papa New Guinea • Adolescence in Samoan culture • Sexual freedom of teenagers compared to sexuality in US in 1930’s • Doing Ethnography • Fieldwork in a particular cultural setting • Living amongst the people anthropologists seek to understand • Traditionally: § Anthropologists studied small-scale societies § Tried to understand the whole of a culture, in a holistic fashion • Specific research question(s) in mind • Beliefs and practices in society as a whole • Holistic • Contemporary Anthropologists • Global scale • Wide range • Sports, art, waste management, global corporations, etc. § Moved away from traditional small scale “primitive” societies • Study something closer to ourselves • Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology • Participant-Observation § Ethnographers need to pay attention to thousands of minute details • Best ways to live it and observe • Significant amount of trust between host community and anthropologists § At least one year with the group they are studying § Host families/groups § Ethnically important for group to know what you are doing • Ethical clearances • Ethics review panel § Nowe Miasto (New City) • Collective House – a repurposed three floor warehouse in New Orleans in 2012 • Activist, radical, arts, music-based collective living space • “optimal society” • Pat Huff of UGA lived in the house and participated in the activities of the collective during fieldwork • Conversation and Interviewing § Conversations (less structured) § Interviews (more structured) • Scheduled questions § Focus Group – talking to to people in groups and listening to them talk to each other – debates, conversations, etc. § Amber Huff of UGA conducts a focus group with Mikea men in Madagascar • Surveys § Questionnaires: forms used by anthropologists to obtain information from respondents § May allow you to reach more people, but low rate of return § More impersonal than face-to-face contact • Individually: o More intimate, better understanding • Genealogical Approach § Used to understand current social relations and reconstruct history § Collect data on an extended kinship § Especially useful where people live and work with family • Life Histories § One individual to understand the society than one’s perspective § How people perceive of, react to, and contribute to changes that affect their lives § Collection of data regarding health, diet and livelihood § Emic vs Etic perspectives • Critical to anthropology and how cultural anthropologists conceptualize the world views of the people they work with • An emic account is a description of a behavior or belief that comes from a person within the culture (ME) • An etic account is a description of a behavior or belief by an observer in terms that can be applied across cultures (THEM) • Combining these perspectives provides a richer picture of a culture than can either one alone • Problem-Oriented Ethnography § Ethnography to answer research questions § Asher: studied how humans respond to changing environmental and economic water and food changes • People he was going to live with were displaced by major floods – catastrophic • Helped him to see how their hydration system changed and how they responded to urgent problems § Annie: studied forest classification and gender livelihoods in conservation efforts in Vietnam • Longitudinal Study § Long-term study, usually based on repeated visits • Team Research § Large teams which fan out across a region • Multi-Sited Research § Research in multiple times and places toward a common goal • Equipment and Recording Methods • Notebooks • Diaries • Voice recorders • Global Positioning Systems (GPS) § Map field systems • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) § Recording and analyzing any geographic data • Analyzing Data • Make sense of what you find • Categorizing to describe different aspects and findings • Ethical Principles from the AAA 1. Do No Harm 2. Be open and honest regarding your work 3. Obtain informed consent and necessary permissions 4. Weigh competing ethical obligations due collaborators and affected parties 5. Make your results accessible 6. Protect and preserve your records


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