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Collaborative Ethnography Essay

1662 words - 7 pages

Postmodern anthropology can be described as a method to write about cultures in a certain way, by scrutinizing and interpreting the information gathered. Postmodern ethnographers believe that it is the way we interpret information that must be studied and that the voice of societies should be advocated through an informant. They also believe that to do this the use of collaborative ethnography is of vital importance. Collaborative ethnography is a relationship between ethnographers and informants. This, however, could be a team of ethnographers observing and studying a society, it could be a couple of ethnographers and more than one informant or it could be an ethnographer and his/her students. There are many different ways in which it could be done but the important factor is that it is a cooperation and bond between more than one author, in order to construct an anthropological writing. This essay is going to look at some of the advantages and limitations of using collaborative ethnography and how this in turn can affect the style of the anthropological writing used. It will argue that, this type of ethnography is important in obtaining reliability, relevance and efficiency when writing about a society in a collaborative way, but will also include the limitations that need to be addressed when working in a team towards a general goal.

Advantages and limitations

When using collaborative ethnography the anthropologist would need to consider the benefits of using such a technique to gather information and observed data. Due to the nature of collaborative ethnography having more than one person co-write is a benefit in its self. In an article written by Luke Eric Lassiter (2008), he aimed to move away from the standard anthropology and to look more at collaboration between colleagues and students. He believed that in doing so, their writings would become more reliable and appropriate to the societies they were studying. For instance if one anthropologist were to observe a society, the way he/she interprets the information they are receiving could be different to that of a colleague. Nevertheless if they were to both construe the same data and amalgamate them together, their research and observations would become more reliable and relevant to that of the society. Lassiter suggested that such collaboration between individuals is already natural in the ethnographers’ field, but should be embraced more literally; he stated that collaborative ethnography is “ethnography that builds on the cooperative relationships already present... between ethnographers and informants/consultants” (Lassiter, 2008, page 73). Through having a rapport with someone allows agreements and information to be shared easily. It is important to work with colleagues and informants as it gives a broader set of knowledge, it also allows for the societies point of view and culture to be put across accurately. In Alberto Bursztyn’s book The Praeger handbook of...

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