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The Ethnographic Perspective: Guests of the Sheik - Assignment Example

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Running Head: ETHNOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE The Ethnographic 1 The Ethnographic Perspective: Guests of the Sheik Name Class Date The ethnographic perspective: Guests of the Sheik Elizabeth Warnock Fernea spent two years, the first two of her marriage in the time period of the 1950s, in a village in Southern Iraq with her accommodations being that of a mud hut…
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The Ethnographic Perspective: Guests of the Sheik

Download file to see previous pages... The following discussion will focus on religion and kinship systems as they relate to the family. Although cultures often have an ideal, it is the everyday that truly determines the nature of a society. Through examining the observations made by Fornea in relationship to her experiences in this small community, a exploration of religion, family, and kinship systems will reveal the differences between the ideal and the very day. Ethnography is the practice of creating a narrative of a culture and society through meaningful and symbolic systems that are translated by an observer. Ethnography is approached through the filter of personal experience. One of the purposes of ethnography is to “broaden our interpretive lens by understanding others’ points of view” (Lassiter, 2006, p. 91). In creating a narrative about her experiences in the small village of Iraq, Fornea has developed the story of her experiences in relationship to her response to those events. She defined her world through how she has experienced the world she originated from in contrast to those events that occurred during her time with the people of the small community. In creating this story through her own experiences, she was able to define what she saw through a sense of observational objectivity, but was subject to the influences of her past that helped her to interpret what she was observing. Through this type of experience, the anthropological experience becomes one in which the world of a culture can be pried open, gently and with the intent of revealing its nature without changing its balance. The type of research that Fornea was engaging in is called participant observation and is a part of cultural anthropology. The ideal of participant observation is that the researcher “involves total immersion in the alien culture and a suspension of one’s own cultural judgments about appropriate behavior” (Bodley, 2011, p. 8). Bodley (2011) discusses the role of the cultural anthropologist in participant observation as being one in which the observer cannot become a part of the community, but participates through outside allowances within the community. In a sense, he or she is a guest observing how the community works. Fornea was both this and a part of the community as this is where she settled her life during these two years. As the community had tightly defined roles that could really only be played by those who had been born and raised as a member, Fornea had the opportunity to live and observe, but keep that distance between herself and the community in order to assess what she was observing. Elizabeth’s husband had been working as an anthropologist in the village of El Nahra for three months before he brought his new bride to the region. As indicated by the title of the book, they were allowed to live there under the protection of Sheik Hamid Abdul el Hussein in a mud house that was to serve as their home. Her initial experiences was with the women of the village with an immediate barrier existing between them through the dress that they wore in comparison to what she was used to for herself. She and her husband decided before she moved there that she would have to wear the abaya, which was the long black robes and covering that is traditionally ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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