Doing Fieldwork Among The Yanomamö Analysis

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In the ethnography “Doing Fieldwork among the Yanomamö” by Napoleon Chagnon, it is apparent that these anthropological tools are apparent in his case study of this primitive society. The tool of emic perspective is seen when Chagnon discusses the custom of aggression for the Yanomamö, a key behavior in their interpersonal politics and social interactions. The Yanomamö use aggression constructively, a behavior that we view as being somewhat taboo. Their cultural lens is shaped to encourage aggression, and without it, a person interacting with their culture is viewed as a distinct outsider. The etic perspective behind this aggression is to ensure that male members of their society have the self-confidence and strength to embody this aggressive …show more content…
This aggression also functions as a way to earn respect in the society, as Chagnon noted. Once Chagnon learned the strategies of aggression amongst the Yanomamö, he was able to successfully integrate fully into Yanomamö society and earn the trust of those that he was studying. In regard to taboo, one of the foremost taboos in Yanomamö society is the taboo of revealing kinships. This taboo is focused on protecting the names of prominent living people along with deceased members of a person’s family and friend network. Chagnon stated that by breaking this taboo, members of the society would have a lower social standing than those who would follow it strictly. Therefore, to preserve a sense of social relevance, many people would refuse to discuss their genealogies with them (Chagnon 1992: 7). This taboo of revealing kinship networks aligns with the definition provided by Levi-Strauss, where the Yanomamö society tries to contain their set of kinship customs from unwelcome outsiders and to breach the trust of the community would be considered breaking the social …show more content…
E. Evans-Pritchard explores the concept of witchcraft among the Azande people in his work Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande. In this case study, we can see the emic perspective of witchcraft as a form of causation for unexplained or unfortunate events. For the Azande, the use of witchcraft accounts for the reasoning behind personal injury, property damage, and normal hardships that Western society would view as accidental. However, Evans-Pritchard explains that we cannot use our own views of abnormality and what qualifies as the supernatural to see their reasoning behind this witchcraft cultural lens. Their ideas of natural and supernatural are completely different from our own. Therefore, we should look from their perspective at what we find to be natural in our own life and see if that alters it to become supernatural. The etic perspective of witchcraft is that it explains why these hardships are harmful to those that experience them and how they occurred. For example, Evans-Pritchard recounts a story about a granary collapsing on some people and how witchcraft became the “missing link” for the Zande’s understanding. He states that the Zande knew that the granary was compromised by a termite infestation and that the people willingly sat under it for shade, but that witchcraft was the reason why the two events coincided together (Evans-Pritchard 1976: 23). We can see here that witchcraft provides the Zande a rational explanation in their

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