Sunday, July 4, 2010

RESPONSE to Povinelli/Week 4

In response to Jen’s question on the role of Ethnography in discrediting indigenous perspectives or creating an ethnocentric binary between indigenous societies and the western world i would say that is an age old question that has it pros and cons and one that cannot be simplified easily, as I’m sure many ethnographers are still grappling with this question. The field of Ethnography has and continues to serve as a tool in better understanding the “natives” or the “other’s” experience and has become, in effect, the description of indigenous non-European peoples by Euro-Americans, which in short are descriptions of so-called primitive people, thus creating the ethnocentric binary and gap between them. However, its danger lies when the Ethnographer approaches his/her field of research with pre conceived notions and attempts to reconfirm them by fixation and overemphasis of such notions. This is what I believe leads to misinformation or lack of concrete information. However, my feeling is that they should be praised for trying rather than be blamed for failing. In Povinelli’s cases, she delves into the heart of the Aboriginal community and her work challenges Western notions of “productive labor” and longstanding ideas about the role of culture in subsistence economies. Her work and analysis shows how everyday activities shape aboriginal identity and provide cultural meaning. In addition, raises serious questions and issues about the validity of Western theories about labor and their impact on the identity of the community.

Ethnographers have a responsibility towards the people and culture being studied. There will be mishaps along the way, but self awareness and constant updates on ethical human research and c is vital in preserving the native’s story and transporting it to the rest of the world.

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