One of the most complex and interesting aspects of cultural anthropology is the ethnography. The idea of being able to read stories about groups of individuals is something that is intriguing to many people. With the ethnography, the authors many times feel that they have control and understanding over the individuals that they are writing about. Furthermore, many of these authors assume that the individuals among whom they are living and studying exemplify the entire society as a whole. Ethnographers have used many different means of establishing their ethnographic authority. One such method is the use of reflexivity in the ethnography. Ethnographers such as Renato Rosaldo in his work Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis and Bronislaw Malinowski in his work Argonauts of the Western Pacific assume their authority through the use of reflexivity. On the other hand, there are authors such as George E. Marcus in his work Ethnography Through Thick and Thin, who explain that reflexivity should be used as a means of demonstrating that one cannot assert such authority, and Dorinne Kondo, in her work Dissolution and Reconstruction of Self: Implications for Anthropological Epistemology, who use reflexivity to make a distinction between the ethnographer's role in the field, and the ethnographer’s role when writing the ethnography.
There are many different interpretations on the meaning of reflexivity. One such interpretation is given by George Marcus in his work Ethnography Through Thick and Thin. In defining one aspect of his interpretation, Marcus states that reflexivity is “the label used in common currency to stand for possible but as-yet unrealized alternatives in the production of ethnography”(Marcus ...
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...serting their authority over the individuals in which they lived among. Whether reflexivity is used as something that is positive, or something that is negative, depends on the ethnographer. In essence, reflexivity is a method that when used in ethnography, is a tool that can be used to the ethnographer’s advantage, and how they use reflexivity is to their own discretion.
Kondo, Dorinne K. “Dissolution and Reconstitution of Self: Implications for Anthropological Epistemology.” Cultural Anthropology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.
Malinowski, Bronislaw. Argonauts of the Western Pacific. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1984.
Marcus, George E. Ethnography Through Thick and Thin. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Rosaldo, Renato. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.
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