Often times, especially in ideological disciplines, there is a great gap between theory and practice. Not all theories apply to lived experiences and not all lived experiences can be summarized in theories. Nevertheless, this paper seeks to construct an ideal relationship between anthropological theory and ethnography. Part 1 examines a brief history of anthropological theory and explores why social life cannot be studied objectively. Part 2 considers some challenges to classical ethnography. It highlights some important concepts in anthropology such as knowledge system theories. It also includes several case studies to demonstrate why Western ideals of science do not always apply when studying other cultures. Part 3 attempts to reinvent anthropology, providing a working definition of culture as well as considering the role of anthropology in the global era. Part 4 shifts to ethnography and considers many post modern concerns of representation, reflexivity, and proposes a brief outline for how to do ethnography. This ethnography is compiled employing various sources, such as Boston University's Anthropology Theory Seminars (AN461 and AN462), course readings, as well as personal readings and personal experience.
[...] II: Sme Challenges to Classical Anthropology The “Rational” Mind In a ground breaking book entitled Science in Action, Bruno Latour challenges the perceived superiority and pure objectivity of Western forms of knowledge through suggesting that the construction of facts and machines is a collective process. He argues that there is nothing inherent in a statement that makes it a fact; rather it is the future processes of others who accept it, support it, ignore it, challenge it, etc wherein the destiny of a statement lies (i.e. [...]
[...] In fact, while many traders initially are legal visitors, the magnitude of fines they acquire as well as costs associated with operating business, housing, and food, render them financially incapable of remaining legal. Varying proficiency of the English language also affects both their business and legal settlements (Stoller, 2001). Given the different structural realities, certain Islamic or cultural values are impossible to sustain in order to survive; they must be modified. For example, in West Africa, idioms of kinship apply within ethnic groups. [...]
[...] To this extent, West and Stoller both present exemplary methods of gaining trust. West collaborates with a Mudean friend who helps him journey along the contours of Mudean life throughout his time there. Because he is able to establish rapport with the community, when he takes pictures of a recently deceased Oracle's house, a forbidden act, his friend defends West, positing that he wasn't intentionally being disrespectful. Moreover, West was also treated as a member of the community in that he was considered a sorcerer, he was subject to sorcery attacks, and was taken to an Oracle. [...]
[...] This allows anthropologists to tackle larger issues and create conclusions—as Renato Rosaldo advocates—rather than the shyer generalizations he accuses anthropology of (Stoller, 2001; Rosaldo, 1993). Reflexivity As is well put by Sally Slocum, are human beings studying other human beings, and we cannot leave ourselves out of the equation (Slocum, 420: 2000).” Thus, ethnography should be written much like a transparent journey, inviting the reader to join from the very beginning (West, 2007). How was funding generated? Who is the anthropologist working for? [...]
[...] Anthropology is in many ways like philosophy or art- the construction of interpretations that spark a cascade of acceptance, dispute, neglect, modification, or re-interpretation. We do not have to get the right the first time, nor the second or third; in fact, we may never. But it is precisely this collective, discursive vexing, inputs on top of inputs, on top of inputs, that will allow us to create a greater truth from many truths, however incongruent they may appear. After all, messiness is what our lived and felt experiences are. [...]
using our reader.