Topics: Samoa, Ethnology, Samoans Pages: 5 (2117 words) Published: February 12, 2013
Field Work Writing Assignment
When an anthropologist takes under the task of doing fieldwork he or she is taking on an overwhelming amount of obstacles one must overcome in order to record accurate information regarding a specific civilization. He or she must overcome many obstacles such as language, race and culture in order to even start a study on a specific culture. In the films "Shock of the Other" and "Margaret Mead and Samoa" we, as the viewer get to see how these fieldworks are done from a perspective myself, as a student, have never gotten to see before. In both of these films quite "famous" anthropologists the first, Margaret Mead, an American journeyed to the South Pacific territory of Samoa in 1925 to do her fieldwork. The other anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis who was born in Hyderabad, Pakistan in 1929 and immigrated to the United States in 1960 was the primary anthropologist in the film "Shock of the Other" traveled to the Amazon River Basin in order to study the drastically primitive civilizations such as the MaschoPiro who basically remain hidden from the outside world. When an anthropologist does fieldwork there are many advantages and disadvantages. One thing an anthropologist must do in order to gain a rewarding experience during his trip to visit another civilization in figuring out the best was to proceed into the certain field he or she is studying. The anthropologist must at first be somewhat familiar with the culture of the area or civilization. (Culture-The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.) They must be somewhat familiar with the language of a particular area as well. If one is very unfamiliar with the language it makes it exceptionally difficult because other than body language there is no other mode of communication. In most societies communication is very import and is the most effective mode to transfer ideas from one individual to another. If there is a so-called "language barrier" it makes doing fieldwork exceptionally difficult. Another obstacle that the anthropologist must overcome is the difference of traditions and religion between his or her background and that of the civilization that is being studied. In order for the people being studied to trust the anthropologist the people must gain a sense of trust. In many cases this trust is achieved by the anthropologists understanding and acceptance of the people's particular traditions and religious beliefs. Another thing the anthropologist must overcome in order to gain accurate information during fieldwork is the difference in looks between the anthropologist and the people being studied. In many cases the biggest thing that is a "barrier" is the way people look. Many times people will judge others simply based on how they look. For example is some primitive culture that lives in the jungle had his tribe's village ripped down by white people in order to build something, a member of that tribe may think that all white people are bad and want to destroy their habitat. On the other hand there are many advantages to doing fieldwork that make for a very rewarding experience once the "culture barrier" is overcome. One advantage is that one gains an a lot more from a culture when you are "immersed" in the particular culture. You can study a culture in books, look at pictures, and watch a movie about an area but it is absolutely nothing like actually being there. You can actually talk to people that live in the culture, attend their religious ceremonies, and see basically how they live on a day to day basis. When one watches a movie or reads a book you get to see the area the way that someone else wants you to see it, not necessarily the way you would see it. When you do fieldwork you can also go to neighboring areas and see how they live as well. You can see how the climate and landscape effect the civilization and how they interact with it....
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