Fieldwork In Anthropology

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Ethnographic fieldwork in anthropology is seen as the most important source of new knowledge about society and culture.
There is no simple recipe for fieldwork.
The overall main aim of fieldwork is to develop as intimate an understanding as possible of the society or culture being studied.
Traditionally the aim of fieldwork was to account for the workings of a particular society but not to explain how it emerged. Anthropologists such as Kroeber and Evans-Pritchard have since stressed the importance of knowing the history of a society and its contribution to the presence.
The connection of different societies is crucial to the understanding and can only be investigated historically (Wolf, 1982), for example it is impossible to fully understand the industrial revolution in the UK without first knowing about the slave trade in America.
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Past anthropologists tended to pay too much attention to the elite of a community, such as Chiefs or teachers, who they were unwittingly attracted to because they are more similar to themselves. This can be problematic as seen in Gerald Berreman’s (1962) study of North India where he used an interpreter who was inadequate because of his position in the ‘caste hierarchy,’ and the people would not open up as much compared if someone who had no place in the hierarchy, such as Berreman himself, was conducting the research.
Anthropologists of the 1920-50’s fieldwork was aimed at a ‘comprehensive overview’ of the way of life of a society, the main criticism of this was that they were not immersing themselves into the field, not staying in an area long enough to be considered ‘natural’ by the natives (Eriksen, 1995, p. 27) and be able to see the world as the locals see it. It’s the idea that the point of fieldwork is to stay in the field long enough to see ‘from the natives point of

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