Antropologi, i miei rispetti...
scrivo dal Nagorno-Karabakh, luogo nel quale sto tentando, con risultati intermittenti, di capirci qualcosa in merito alla costituzione di un etno-nazionalismo...ma questo non e' importante.
Importante e' invece aver acquisito l'immediata consapevolezza di quanto sia articolatamente complesso allestire un metodo di ricerca socio-antropologico affine, compatibile e adatto al suolo culturale che calpesti, oltre che fruttuoso ai fini della ricerca stessa.
E' un gesto piuttosto impulsivo, il mio: di iniziare questa chiacchierata sul metodo, o sulle trame del metodo da campo...o semplicemente scambiarci personali esperienze di ricerca, indicazioni, consigli, spunti, letture...
Essendo ben consapevole di non essere in grado di gestire un gruppo - e per pigrizia e per disattenzione, approfitto della piattaforma italiofona/poliglottofona per lanciare l'argomentazione...
Spero, compiacendo quanto meno una minima parte di voi.

Anthropologists, my best regards
I am writing from Cuacasian Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which I am trying to comprehend something with regard to the constitution on ethno-nationalism phenomena, with wobbling results. Anyway, nevermind...
Instead, I would like to focus your attention on another really important thing, in my opinion. During last months, in order to carry out this my field-research project, I became aware of how is well-complicated to set up a socio-anthopological research methods akin, compatible and fit to the cultural territory that you're standing on, and at the same time, obviously, to make it fruitful for the own research results.
So, a bit impulsively, I would like start a speech about the field-research methodology and on its woof, or more easily, merely bring, take and exchange personal experiences, specific hints, and bibliographic advices...
Finally to be honest, I am conscious of could not to be careful and skilled enough to manage a specific Group. I thought I could exploit this informatic Italian platform, in order to launch such a argumentation.
By hoping for make happy at least the minuscule part of you...

увидимся,
L

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Replies to This Discussion

ciao Luca,
io invece sto organizzando il viaggio che mi porterà negli USA per una ricerca sul post Katrina a New Orleans e...non ho idea di ciò che mi aspetti :-) la tua è una tesi di dottorato o cosa?
quella di aprire una discussione sul metodo è assai interessante, anche se sinceramente dubito ci sia una formula che valga al di là del singolo caso e del singolo ricercatore. Come ha detto il caro Viazzo "la ricerca antropologica è più un'arte che una scienza". comunque a parlarne sicuramente verrà fuori qualcosa d'interessante
Grazia, Luca, per questa domanda interestante ed importante.

My impression is that many anthropologists feel about methodology the way Italians (or at least my friends in Sardinia) feel about automobile seat belts: unnecessary, constraining, and cowardly. Even so, when you get to the field, it is natural to think, "What now?"

May I say a few general things about our research strategy: "participant observation" (as it's called in the English speaking world)?

One is that we are able to draw on a wide variety of kinds of information: public announcements and statements; informal discussions; surveys; offical statistics; formal interviews; direct observation; etc. This range of information sources helps to give us a rounded perspective. For example, when I was doing research in Sardinia, I not only spoke with local people, I read the Sardinian newspapers "religiously" and carefully. I found this very useful to complement what I was seeing and hearing locally.

Another is that we can check and cross-check what we see and hear with the same and with other informants or sources of information. We can challenge what people say to us, and see how they respond. This is usually very instructive.

Furthermore, if we can return from time to time to our research site, we discover that different things are going on from one year to the next. Each year is not like the previous or the following one, because things happen at one time and people respond to them, while at another time, something else is happening. There can be droughts, wars, economic collapses, political crises, fires, new jobs, resource discoveries, etc. etc., and a year can be taken up with one of these, and the next year with another. (I know, I know, the hot new trend is "multi-sited" studies. But I think it is better to understand one place well than to misunderstand several.)

These are kind of universal hopes for ethnographic research, but I do think each of us can benefit from these potentialities.

As for which methodologies would be most suitable for your research at your interesting site in Nagorno-Karabakh, perhaps we would be better able to give advice if we knew more about your research topic and the kind of information you want to collect.
Ma,

If ethnography is not science, probably it is not art either. Maybe it would be more accurate to call it a craft. But as we know, there are poor craftsmen, fair craftsmen, and highly skilled master craftsmen who have both strategy and skills.

A good carpenter knows how to choose the right wood, which tools to use, where to measure and remeasure, how much to cut, how much to shave, how much to sand, what finish is right. This takes training, the development of skills, practice, experience, and talent.

For the craft of ethnography, you need many of the same: an ability to choose a good problem and site, knowledge to select and focus, know what to measure and remeasure, how to analyse, how to synthesize, and how to write it up. A good part of this is called methodology. If we don't have method, we don't know what we are doing.
Philip’s definition is too interesting for not reply, because it seems an attractive way for direct our glances towards a well done grasp to the problem.

You know certainly, in Italy we have a ancient craft tradition – anyway who hasn’t? – of handiworks or manufactured products which cover from Venecian Murano glass untill the Toscany ceramic tiles, passing through foods, shoes and dresses, furniture and blablabla…Here, instead, I have found for example, a carpets high level tradition…
These creations have got a high value and huge appreciation, not just because of the materials used or the time spent for made them, but are highly regarded by virtue of their Uniqueness.
But what truly is this Craft? Mostly, in order to be a bit more analytical, it is a material store of knowledge (or savuer faire?), estate of one main community (more or less great), and it is passed on within its members, and of course generations, “from father to son” as is were. This was (and unfortunately nowadays it is less than in the past) due to historical conditions based to the medieval state-cities, and so on…
Here we are: while someone claims this products are an specific form of art, just a bit more useful in the practical and material life and into the market, someone else can assert this is only a product, result of a specific techniques and standard working methods learnt and learnable to everyone. Apart the real fact that not everybody learnt the job secrets will be a good craftsmen, I think honestly it was both, but hard it’s understood where is the boundary between Idea and Standardization here, no?
I think this our anthropological craft have to be sometimes a bit more science, and sometimes more art. I also want to think that while the artist (I am thinking as much to the Venice Biennale as to Caravaggio) put the whole Idea, the marrow of art, into the Opera, the craftsman has to mediate much more than that, by trying to adapt its Opera to the material conditions of life of the customers.
And to be honest, I have some friends which work in a biological laboratory, who gave me genetic private lessons, and I have to recognize that in the science also there is a art crumbs: Mendel, who made “to breed” peas. It’s a shoot of astuteness, a proper and actual creation…
However, what the Anthropologists try to do during their field-works? I guess, they try to find (and straight after to “take out”) the inner Idea of a specific society (the pure art of the human beings social life) through another Idea, that is, by using the method. But this is maybe a minor, derivate and mediated Idea, which is constructed, made up and sometimes assembled with both learnt instruments and insights.
Or maybe not, and these two Ideas are exactly the same fruit of “to be in the world”, remembering Sir Heidegger.
Finally, I was considering that as a craftsman, the Anthropologists too, has to adapt the final experiential product (the so called “findings”) to the several conditions of the market, in that case the academic market. But this is quite another matter.

до свида́ния,
L

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