Anthropoligical Fieldwork Essay

Anthropoligical Fieldwork Essay

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Field Work Writing Assignment

When an anthropologist takes under the task of doing fieldwork he or she is taking on an overwhelming amount of obstacles one must overcome in order to record accurate information regarding a specific civilization. He or she must overcome many obstacles such as language, race and culture in order to even start a study on a specific culture. In the films "Shock of the Other" and "Margaret Mead and Samoa" we, as the viewer get to see how these fieldworks are done from a perspective myself, as a student, have never gotten to see before. In both of these films quite "famous" anthropologists the first, Margaret Mead, an American journeyed to the South Pacific territory of Samoa in 1925 to do her fieldwork. The other anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis who was born in Hyderabad, Pakistan in 1929 and immigrated to the United States in 1960 was the primary anthropologist in the film "Shock of the Other" traveled to the Amazon River Basin in order to study the drastically primitive civilizations such as the MaschoPiro who basically remain hidden from the outside world.

When an anthropologist does fieldwork there are many advantages and disadvantages. One thing an anthropologist must do in order to gain a rewarding experience during his trip to visit another civilization in figuring out the best was to proceed into the certain field he or she is studying. The anthropologist must at first be somewhat familiar with the culture of the area or civilization. (Culture-The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.) They must be somewhat familiar with the language of a particular area as well. If one is very unfamiliar with ...


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...pological research and must be done in order to really get a "feel" for a civilization. I think both Mead and Maybury-Lewis did a good job in bringing us information about cultures in which we have little or no knowledge in a seeming unbiased view. I commend these scientists for being so brave and courageous as to go into a culture where they are the "other" and be able to give us information on what happens in areas of the world we don't see on a regular basis.

Works Cited


  1. Cassidy, Robert "Margaret Mead: A Voice for the Century" Pgs 22-41, Universe Books 1982
  2. Lenkeit, Roberta Edwards "Introducing Cultural Anthropology" Pg 55, McGraw-Hill 2004
  3. "Samoa: The Adolescent Girl", Unknown, http://www.loc.gov/exibits/mead.field-samoa.html, 2003


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