Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and by Thomas Hylland Eriksen PDF

By Thomas Hylland Eriksen

This concise creation to social and cultural anthropology has turn into a latest vintage, introducing numerous scholars to the sector and the instruments it deals for exploring one of the most complex questions of human lifestyles and interplay. This fourth variation is absolutely up-to-date, incorporating fresh debates and controversies within the box, starting from globalization and migration examine to difficulties of cultural translation and the demanding situations of interdisciplinarity. without problems bridging the distance among vintage and modern anthropology, Small areas, huge matters continues to be a vital textual content for undergraduates embarking at the learn of this box.

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Extra info for Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

Example text

Many fieldworkers are treated with great deference and respect by their hosts, are spoken to in exaggeratedly polite ways and so on, and can thus run the risk of never seeing aspects of society which the locals are ashamed of showing to high-ranking strangers. No matter which role you take on in the field – most ethnographers are probably part expert, part clown, at least in the early stages – fieldwork is extremely demanding, both in professional and in human terms. The tidy, systematic and well-rounded texts written by anthropologists are more often than not the end-product of long periods in the field characterised by boredom, illness, personal privations, disappointments and frustration: few anthropologists can state squarely that their fieldwork was a continuously exciting journey of exploration, full of pleasant experiences.

They knew relatively little about the sites they were going to, and communication with their home countries was slow and infrequent. The world has changed quite dramatically since then. There are ethnographic studies from every region of the world, although it may still be possible to come across smaller groups, notably in the Amazon basin or New Guinea, which have not been studied anthropologically and who have had limited contact with the outside world. More often than not, however, it is possible to learn the language before leaving home, and there usually exists a large specialist literature devoted to the region, which must be consulted before embarking on fieldwork – and which the novice ethnographer may hope to add to, thereby contributing to the cumulative growth of knowledge which is the hallmark of any science, however it is defined.

We may envision the search for this kind of general insight as a zigzag movement between the observation of fact and theoretical reasoning, where new facts modify the theory and (modified) theory accounts for the facts. Each time you shift from theory to description of empirical process and back, your insight has become a little bit more accurate. If you were to reproduce everything your informants said and to describe everything they did, you would be unable to falsify, or for that matter justify, specific hypotheses.

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Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology by Thomas Hylland Eriksen


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