Anthropological Research


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Describes Principles of Anthropological Research; Discusses field techniques

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Anthropological Research

  1. 1. Anthropological Research and Theory Analyzing Sociocultural Systems
  2. 2. Introduction to Anthropological Research <ul><li>Ethnographies are the sources of cultural anthropology in theory and research </li></ul><ul><li>In the next two sections, we cover the following </li></ul><ul><li>The stages of a research project; learning EthnoQuest is essential to this section </li></ul><ul><li>The basics of anthropological method </li></ul><ul><li>The basics of scientific method and its links to anthropology </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Importance of Ethnographic Research <ul><li>All Anthropology relies on ethnographic research in the field. </li></ul><ul><li>It involves getting out to the band, village, or urban quarter and gathering information. </li></ul><ul><li>How you gather your information depends on your research interest, the research problem you wish to address, and the plan you draw up based on the topic. </li></ul><ul><li>So we start with the stages of your study </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Stages of Research <ul><li>Develop the research problem you want to address </li></ul><ul><li>Draw up the techniques you expect to use </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain Funding </li></ul><ul><li>Make your first contacts </li></ul><ul><li>Compile a genealogy of the community </li></ul><ul><li>Develop your research technique </li></ul><ul><li>Carry out your research in the community </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining good relations with your informants during the project and when you leave </li></ul><ul><li>EthnoQuest provides you a good guide to research </li></ul>
  5. 5. Research Problem <ul><li>Review existing literature of your culture area </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that the problem is specific </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate the academic relevance of your research </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that it is manageable in a year’s time </li></ul><ul><li>Develop your research techniques in advance </li></ul><ul><li>Always develop a Plan B if the unforeseeable happens </li></ul>
  6. 6. Apply for Funding <ul><li>Demonstrate you have defined your research problem as explained above </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that your project is in line with the funding agent’s objectives; phrase your application accordingly </li></ul><ul><li>Submit a budget, including living costs, required equipment, and incidental expenses </li></ul><ul><li>State the timelines of your project; assume you will need at least a year to complete the study </li></ul>
  7. 7. Preparations <ul><li>Obtain the necessary official documents: passport, visa (upper photo), transportation tickets </li></ul><ul><li>Get innoculations: Hepatitis B shots for example (doctors or nurses usually give them) </li></ul><ul><li>Contact your research colleagues in advance </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain appropriate letters of introduction from research institutes and authorities in the host country. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Learn the Basics of All Research: Overview <ul><li>We want to learn something about the world—or anything in it. </li></ul><ul><li>This involves gathering the information </li></ul><ul><li>Making sense of it </li></ul><ul><li>Testing our conceptions of the information </li></ul><ul><li>And repeating the process, as this design tells us. </li></ul><ul><li>This diagram follows the framework of Charles Peirce, a 19 th century American philosopher </li></ul>
  9. 9. Learn the Basics of All Research: Make Field Observations <ul><li>First we have to observe things and events in the world </li></ul><ul><li>By induction , we gain some understanding of these things and events </li></ul><ul><li>But the knowledge is still like a soup , with essential facts but not yet organized </li></ul><ul><li>By abduction , we infer the essential points of our knowledge that best explain what we have observed </li></ul><ul><li>Theory (at this stage a hypothesis ) assembles these inferences into a body of related explanations, represented by the crystal </li></ul><ul><li>The arrow on top of the theoretical diamond tells us we are still revising the theory </li></ul>
  10. 10. Learn the Basics of all Research: Test Your Hypothesis <ul><li>The arrow above the crystal means you will work out, or revise your theory (really a hypothesis) </li></ul><ul><li>That theory is a prediction of your research in another aspect of the world </li></ul><ul><li>Action means you either conduct further research </li></ul><ul><li>Or apply your research </li></ul><ul><li>Either way, the test is to see how well your theory or application is supported by things and events of the real world. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually, you have to repeat the whole cycle to get it right. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Next Step: Develop a Research Project <ul><li>In the diagram, you are usually at the prediction testing phase </li></ul><ul><li>First, review the work on the culture area and/or theories about your topic </li></ul><ul><li>Second, work on a research strategy—what field techniques will you use </li></ul><ul><li>Third, go to the site—band, village—where you will conduct your research </li></ul>
  12. 12. Decide What Methods Will Guide Your Research <ul><li>First, does your project a scientific or a humanities question? </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific: Search for hidden but universal and unchanging principles </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific topics predominate in economic, political, and social anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential or Humanities: Experiencing another culture from a personal view </li></ul><ul><li>Humanities topics predominate in musicology, visual arts, oral traditions, supernatural belief </li></ul><ul><li>But to some extent all topics contain aspects of science and the humanities </li></ul>
  13. 13. Defining Method <ul><li>Your research topic will govern the method you use </li></ul><ul><li>Definition: the criteria which determine which research techniques you will use </li></ul><ul><li>In almost all situations, you have to know how everyone is related to everyone else </li></ul><ul><li>In that event, you need to analyze kinship relations starting with a village census </li></ul><ul><li>Others methods are more specialized: learning about individual personalities may mean using culturally modified inkblot tests or pictures that elicit storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>But if you’re studying dietary habits, you need a technique that analyzes game hunting and food gathering </li></ul><ul><li>So your research questions generate the method, which then generates the technique </li></ul>
  14. 14. Basic Anthropological Research Techniques <ul><li>Traditionally, anthropologists have relied on </li></ul><ul><li>Observation: Focused watching, listening to, and recording things and events </li></ul><ul><li>Participant Observation: Observing while participating in a ritual or other event in the community </li></ul><ul><li>Open-ended interview: Interviewing informants without a questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>Closed Ended or Structured Interview: Interview informants with a questionnaire. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Basic Research Techniques: Observation <ul><li>Observation: Consists of focused watching, listening, and looking for connections between the events and things being observed </li></ul><ul><li>Here Elizabeth Rhoads observes a Balinese procession that is linked to an movement for autonomy from Indonesia </li></ul><ul><li>The subject required her to record details of the ritual and other public events related to the topic of Balinese autonomy </li></ul>
  16. 16. Basic Research Techniques: Participant Observation <ul><li>Participant Observation: Observing events while participating </li></ul><ul><li>Here anthropologist Phil Bartle participates as a horn player in a military ceremony of a Ghanian Obo royal court </li></ul><ul><li>He relied on a key informant to gather his data in a state-level culture </li></ul>
  17. 17. Basic Anthropological Research Techniques: Open Ended Interviews <ul><li>Open-ended interview entail asking unrehearsed questions </li></ul><ul><li>The informant’s response determines what to ask next. </li></ul><ul><li>Above, Beth Turquand interviews a market woman in Ghana for an economic anthropology project </li></ul><ul><li>Below, Robin Steinweg interviews the devil in a shop called Hell on Grand Cayman Island, in a tourism project </li></ul><ul><li>You never know what you might turn up in an interview </li></ul>
  18. 18. Basic Research Techniques: Closed Ended (Structured) Interviews <ul><li>Interviews in which the respondent has limited choices to respond (above) </li></ul><ul><li>In this case, the information can be statistically tabulated </li></ul><ul><li>Answers quantitative questions </li></ul><ul><li>For example, one can tabulate as to how many Native Americans speak their original language </li></ul><ul><li>Such as the Quapaw language in Oklahoma (compiled by these linguistic students at Missouri State University </li></ul>
  19. 19. Entering the Community <ul><li>There is no one best way to enter the community; the following are guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Where appropriate, present one or more letters of introduction to the local officials </li></ul><ul><li>Have someone whom the community knows accompany you; this is how Napoleon Chagnon first entered a Yanomamo community </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate as many misunderstandings as your can and be prepared to handle them diplomatically </li></ul><ul><li>For further tips, complete Unit 2 of EthnoQuest and read the handbook </li></ul>
  20. 20. Working in the Community <ul><li>Take a lot of notes and be prepared to do it the old fashioned way. Laptops may not be feasible. </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule your time by the local’s timeline, not your own. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn the etiquette of the community and abide by them ASAP. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember you are a guest; behave like one. </li></ul><ul><li>For other tips, give EthnoQuest of Unit 2 a through read and go through the tips in your electronic knapsack (see EthnoQuest CD). </li></ul>
  21. 21. Leaving the Community <ul><li>Remember that reciprocity is a cultural universal and there is a strong obligation to give—and repay for all the information the community has provided you. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that obligation to receive—accept any gift the members might offer you. </li></ul><ul><li>For further details, look at Unit 10 of EthnoQuest and do the exercise even though it is not assigned. This will be one of your three extra credit options with Units 8 or 9. </li></ul>
  22. 22. From Practice to Theory <ul><li>This section has provided you with some pointers about carrying out fieldwork. </li></ul><ul><li>Do the assignments in EthnoQuest diligently ; remember that it is the best substitute for being in a community of a different culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Next up: some tenets in anthropological and scientific research. </li></ul>