The Key of Reflexivity

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The Key of Reflexivity

What gives me the right to judge? As a studying anthropologist, what constitutes me the right to study “Others” and proclaim my perception of the “studied” is correct? Since the development of writing, authors have fell victim to their own misconceptions of a studied group or culture. Even I, right now as I type away at this keyboard am judging and studying the works of other authors. Whether I take a critical or a supportive view of the writings is obsolete, what matters is how my personal life experiences as a studying anthropologist can lead to legitimate findings. Is this possible? Authors may take their own personal hang-ups of society and implement them into their writings. An example would be an angry painter asked to sketch a picture of a happy family seated in front of him. Is the picture accurate if the final creation portrays the family hugging each other but not smiling? Without reflexivity the author/painter will not know why his creation turned out the way it did. Anthropologists are similar to painters. Mainly because their pictures are text drawn with pens, pencils, or keyboards. However, self- reflexivity provides an awareness that allows for personal reflection, aiding in the process of the understanding. It also emphasizes the point of theoretical and practical questioning changing the ethnographer’s view of themselves and their work.

To understand how anthropologists can study a group of people successfully, we must first understand their rationale. Kondo states “ I felt every effort necessary in order to blend in and avoid being unmasked as a foreigner.” (Pg., 76) As a foreigner she is admitting to being different than the people she is studying. However, by doing so she is conveying that psyche and thoughts are what separate people, not just their physical traits. I believe this will benefit Kondo in her studies. Realizing that her linguistic and cultural skills will help her to assimilate into the culture and study truly as a participant observer. A misconception may present itself while analyzing a case as diverse as Kondo’s. To conclude that a Japanese woman with American culture, can add perspective for both instances, would be immature. Rather, a Japanese woman with American culture can only provide a legitimate stance for a Japanese woman, raised in a American culture.

Malinowski on the other hand feels as though studying every little detail will provide you with the necessary components for a good anthropologist to construct a sound and rational ethnography.

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