Use of Reflexivity in Ethnographic Research

991 Words4 Pages
Use of Reflexivity in Ethnographic Research

Works Cited Missing

The use of reflexivity in ethnographic research and writing is used to insist that the anthropologist has systematically and rigorously revealed their methodology and their self as the instrument of data collection and generation. Reflexivity can play a variety of roles in ethnographic writings as observed in the works of Renato Rosaldo, Dorinne Kondo, and Ruth Behar. These three anthropologists all use reflexivity in different ways to convey their findings and feelings. The three works, however, also point out the advantages and the limits of ethnographic reflexivity.

Renato Rosaldo in his article “Grief and a Headhunters Rage” uses ethnographic reflexivity to show how in the beginning of his fieldwork he “was not yet in a position to comprehend the force of anger possible in bereavement” (Rosaldo, 7) and that it wasn’t until fourteen years later when he experienced the loss of his wife that he could comprehend what the Ilongots had told him about grief, rage, and headhunting. Rosaldo then writes “I began to fathom the force of what Ilongots had been telling me about their losses through my own loss, and not through any systematic preparation for field research” (Rosaldo, 8). Renato Rosaldo’s own experiences had helped him to understand and empathize with the Ilongots, who fourteen years earlier, he was not able to understand that the Ilongot’s statement that “Rage, born of grief, impels him to kill his fellow human beings.” (Rosaldo, 1)Rosaldo’s writings point out that having similar experiences allows the anthropologist to understand and empathize with the people they are studying. This comprehension on the anthropologist’s behalf allows for easier accessibility and transcription to the general public. Shared experiences, however, allow for more biases and interpretations to seep into the anthropologist’s writing. It is more likely that the anthropologist will use his or her own experiences and interpretations when writing on the culture. Renato Rosaldo addresses this issue when he writes, “by invoking personal experience as an analytical category one risks easy dismissal” (Rosaldo, 11).

In the article “Dissolution and Reconstitution of Self: Implications for Anthropological Epistemology”, Dorinne Kondo uses ethnographic reflexivity to discuss her research in Japan, being a Japanese-American, and the expectations of being Japanese. Dorinne Kondo was torn between the American culture she was accustomed to and the Japanese culture she was studying and tried to associate with.

More about Use of Reflexivity in Ethnographic Research

Open Document