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Construction and development of anthropology

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  1. Introduction
  2. Brief origin and history of anthropological theory
  3. The reasons for not being able to study social life objectively
  4. Challenges to classical anthropology
    1. The rational mind
    2. The primitive mind
    3. Classic ethnographies
  5. Reinventing anthropology
    1. Meaning of culture
    2. Role of anthropology in global era
    3. Doing ethnography
    4. Reflexivity
    5. Representing the other
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

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. [...]

[...] Latour argues, at this point, that from questions about minds and froms, we move to questions of people living in different cultures. That is, rationality is based on links, and different links are created between different points in different cultures. Interestingly, we are not even aware of the construction of these links (they are naturalized), until a dispute arises, i.e. when confronted with different ways of tying elements together (Latour, 1987). Thus, Latour dismisses the term and replaces it with ?sociologics? (contextualized stronger and weaker associations). [...]

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