Reflective Essay

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Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s culture is more superior to others and that they hold all others in comparison to their own. It is a concept that was introduced in the beginning of this course and has played a role in discussions throughout the semester. At first it is difficult to understand what ethnocentrism is and why it plays such a prominent role, but with the reoccurring appearance of the term in class, the importance behind it becomes more evident. If an individual has the perspective of being ethnocentric, then they limit themselves because of the mindset they have on the world. In cultural anthropology it is of great importance that researchers do not take on an ethnocentric perspective, because they learn more if they can set their own views and biases aside and focus on a different culture.

Ethnocentrism leads to a narrow-minded perspective that isolates one set of ideas, values and morals. A society with an ethnocentric view believes that their culture is the center of everything, and that anything different or new to them is not sufficient. If a community of people with ethnocentric views were to gain power, then they could go to such extreme as to impose their ideas onto others who may have a different perspective. It is seen in history with racial segregation and the genocide of a race such as in the case of the Nazi power in Germany and the holocaust. In today’s time, when culture is constantly changing with globalization, to have an ethnocentric perspective can cause great interference with international relations.

Anthropologists benefit a great deal from observing and learning from other cultures. They use a variety of methods and strategies to avoid ethnocentric interpretations. These methods may include, but are not limited to, surveys, interviews with individuals and participant observation. In the novel Veiled Sentiments author and anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod describes her experience in the Bedouin community by saying “in a...
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