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The New Professional Discipline of Ethnography - Essay Example

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The reporter underlines that the new professional discipline of ethnography very often requires the tedious study of a group of people by spending a lot of time with them, hoping to gain some good insights into their way of life which might prove useful in other societies. …
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The New Professional Discipline of Ethnography
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Download file to see previous pages The idea is to come up with a scientific description of the people being studied and give any outside observers a very good idea of how a society had developed over generations, creating its own culture. Ethnography used to be a sub-specialty of anthropology which in turn is the study or the science of the origins, biological characteristics, cultural development and the social customs or beliefs of mankind. However, ethnography is a much more narrowly-focused study of unique cultures and is now recognized as a separate discipline by itself. The aims of ethnography are to come up with interesting or unusual explanations of some observed behaviors and phenomena among the people being studied. It is an intensive type of fieldwork that requires immersion in the culture or society that is studied, by spending weeks, months or even years among the people.
This paper discusses the rationale for the study of the Nuer people of Africa, a primitive society but which has endured over the years, in ways similar to biblical tribes. Some theoretical questions that can be asked for this particular study are what are the benefits, insights or expectations of studying these people who seem to belong to the early era of human history? Is a study like this not a waste of time, when it seems to be going backward instead of forward?
The Nuer people consists of several tribes, numbering close to 900,000 persons living in the areas of South Sudan and western parts of Ethiopia. Their main source of livelihood is cattle raising, although they rarely eat beef except on some special occasions but maintain cattle herds chiefly as a milk source for them. The word Nuer means “original people” and they belong to the same ethnic group as the Dinka and Atwot (the two other main tribes living in this region) which speak the same uniform Nilotic language, with no discernible or observable dialects. The reason why they own cattle is largely cultural, in the sense it determines the political hierarchy or social standing of Nuer men, based on the quantity and quality of the cattle herd he has. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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