Anthropology Reading Journal Series
II. 09/12/2011: Ethnography and/as Culture I
As part of a critical reading journal for my graduate Ethnology class, I’ve decided to start documenting my responses to assigned readings in this blog.
It’s my hope that this will serve as an exercise to both develop my scholarly writing as well as to virtually document my time as a graduate student in pursuit of a second masters degree. As a librarian, I find that going back to school has enabled me to keep my mind engaged with some of the same concerns my patrons are experiencing.
With that said, here are the first week’s worth of readings surrounding ethnography and culture. As a newbie, I found the readings to be overall enlightening. They helped to give me a historical framework for the discipline of anthropology and writing that I hadn’t encountered before.
Following are definitions from Dictionary.com
1. ethnography – (noun) a branch of anthropology dealing with the scientific description of individual cultures.
2. culture – (noun)
-the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits,etc.
–that which is excellent in the arts,manners,etc.
–a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period :Greek culture.
–development or improvement of the mind by education or training.
–the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.
Reading #1: Clifford, James. 1980. “Fieldwork, Reciprocity, and the Making of Ethnographic Texts.” Man 15(3):518-532.
The main topic of Clifford’s article, “Fieldwork, Reciprocity, and the Making of Ethnographic Texts”, is that of participant observation, a key process that involves the ethnographer not merely observing or watching his subject, but actively engaging with the subject, his environment and activities. It’s considered a key component for developing ethnography.
Clifford cleverly uses the work of the missionary anthropologist Maurice Leenhardt, whose ethnographic research took place in New Caledonia during the early 20th century as a way to explain one mode of creating ethnography.