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Fieldwork: Culture and Anthropologists

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The problems that faced by anthropologists in the fieldwork are adaptation to new culture, maintain objectivism and get access to all information from their subjects. Adaptation to new culture is hard, since they have to stay for a period of time and try to live in the way their subjects’ do. Adaptation that done by anthropologists is not only adapt new lifestyle, but also learning their cultural norms and language in order to be accepeted by their subjects as a part of them, not only as a foreigner. For instance, M. N. Srinivas was got disapproval for shaving before bath since in that community, people are shaving after bath (Srinivas, 2002). However, by adapting the culture, anthropologists not only gain knowledge about how the culture is, but they will have better understanding on the culture. Knowing why do people in certain culture do certain activity, how the culture has impacted the people on that community and the historical of the culture as well. On top of that, a better understanding of the culture may assist the anthropologists to produce an unbiased ethnography by avoiding ethnocentrism.
Having different cultures, people tend to make a comparison among the culture. It could be inevitable when living with people with different cultures in which values, norms and behavioural acceptance are in different manner. This objectivism is needed when anthropologists faced problem with what they observe. Remain objective could be a bit hard when the anthropologists have an emotional involvement on problems that their subjects’ face. For example, when Claire did the observation on prostitutes lifestyle and have emotional pressure, at some point she need to out from the field, so that her objectivism is remain stable (Sterk, 2009). Other than avoiding ethnocentrism, maintaining objectivism is also required to build a good relationship with their subjects. By the example on what Claire done, the thing that can be learned is anthropologists should not interfere too much on their subjects’ life, and also anthropologists should be able to set a boundaries to limit to what extend they can emotionally interfere with their subjects (Sterk, 2009). The other problem that faced the most by anthropologists is get access to all information from their subjects. In order to find the respondents, anthropologists need to show their respects to gain trust from the leader of that community. The importance of key respondents is to open a path to communicate with other members in that community to get more perception of how the norms and culture affect their life. However, the problem is, sometimes anthropologists wrongly identify the key repondents. According to Calire E. Sterk (2009), anthropologists need to be able to find the right person as their key respondents, if not, then the access to information is too narrow, which could cause misinterpretation on the data. For instance, during fieldwork in Rampura village, M.N.Srinivas observed a community that led by a headman that very strict on cultural rules(Srinivas 2009). The headman always watch whatever Srinivas did and limited the access to the members of that community , till the time when he realize that there are two faction and apparently the second faction is more open to foreigners than the first faction (Srinivas, 2009). By reading this case, there is something that can be a learning experience which is before anthropologists do participant observation, they need to know how is the structure of that society, what are the cultural values, norms and belief that they believe in and the most important thing is to know what are motivations to do such a cultural activities and how they do it.

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