Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

36276Ethnography / was Re: And She Who Was Second Shall be First

Expand Messages
  • Exist List Moderator
    Sep 17, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      On Sep 14, 2005, at 9:22, Aija Veldre Beldavs wrote:

      > contrary to someone's put-down of "ethnography" and "memetics," at its
      > best folk psychology and philosophy (often combined) also use knowledge
      > from all three subtypes of the lifeworld. the latvian term for
      > folklore
      > and ethnography is "life knowledge" (dziiveszinja). the concept is
      > dynamic and ongoing in contrast to how ethnography, folklore, or
      > memetics
      > is often perceived (usually by outsiders). obviously there is a richer
      > folk psychology and philosophy if there is also a full range of social
      > diversity with broader educational opportunities.

      My position is that much "ethnographic" and "memetic" scholarship is
      weakly documented and often tainted by a social-epistemic motivation
      that fails to properly disclose its biases. I have spent six months
      reading various social science, women's studies, and anthropology
      papers written by students during the last five years. The papers
      awarded high marks seem lacking to me, for a variety of reasons.

      Shirely Brice Heath and other quantitative / qualitative ethnographers
      have improved the field by admitting its shortcomings and asking
      researchers to be more introspective. I think this is a valid request
      of ethnographers but it is often overlooked.

      You cannot be an unbiased observer and often the observer assumes an
      activist role. Other sciences are not immune to activism, but such
      activism in ethnography can have serious consequences. In a journal I
      read last spring, the anthropologist involved explained that his
      interactions with a culture might have resulted in some extreme
      punishments for one influenced subject.

      In computer sciences or neurology, two of the many fields I consult,
      the researchers choices can be ethically affective, but seldom does lab
      work put other individuals at risk. (Sure, some risk might occur, but
      it isn't quite like violating the "Prime Directive" among island

      A colleague spent a year on an isolated island teaching English and
      doing anthropological research. Only towards the end did he realize
      that his mere presence had altered the culture. This seems far more
      risky than the principal that all observational science affects the
      phenomena being observed.

      So, yes, I do judge ethnography differently. It must be done with care
      and with a lot of documentation or it risks being something other than

      - C. S. Wyatt
      I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
      that I shall be.
      http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
      http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
    • Show all 18 messages in this topic