A Universal Teaching

I found this cartoon to be quite amusing, especially because we consider ourselves a rare and odd breed, and I thought it would be perfect for the blog because we discussed the advancements in field-work, standardized by Boas.
In my Criminal Justice Research Methods class we discussed participant- observation, and my professor had mentioned that some anthropologists become so consumed by a culture they are studying, they suffer from “going native” while I’m sure she was reciting from research she has conducted on the subject, when I asked her to explain what “going native” meant, it sounded so similar to what is purposefully done to create rapport with the society being examined. It demonstrated how misunderstood anthropological field research really is, and the stereotype of anthropologists to be crazy, as depicted in the picture with the bleeding, injured anthropologist recording his experience.
With so many misconceptions about what anthropologists do, even among anthropologists, based on the various theories many produced about what should drive their own work, it easy to see where people are misled, and that is precisely what led Boas to establish fundamental methods still utilized today, because often speculation is offered as evidence and unfortunately some people will blindly accept it. Boas created a theory that was effectively, and rightly, used to shed light upon the inherent racism produced by popular scientific theories, it is applicable to numerous situations, including personal standards I choose to live by.

Do not blindly agree with another’s interpretation, gather all the facts and make your own conclusion.

It is easy to apply your own feelings to a particular situation, but until you observe and understand the context in which events occurred, you should avoid judging other’s behavior.

Speculation leads to stereotypes, which are harmful generalizations that persecuted many. Boas may have missed key elements by not allowing himself to produce universal laws, but he did create a universal teaching, a standard that can travel beyond the anthropological perspective.

Saraya Kohloff


A Universal Teaching


4 thoughts on “A Universal Teaching

  1. I like the cartoon I also like how you tied your class experience to explaining how people can misunderstand anthropology field work can be. It helps make people think of there unexamined assumptions.

  2. Tom Montemurro says:

    i completely agree stay neutral until you have all the facts you need to make your own conclusion and accept that it may be different from those around you, but stick with it. Great blog and funny pic.

    • Stay _intellectually_ neutral, perhaps. No one can avoid having emotions, likes, and dislikes when doing cross-cultural fieldwork. It’s intense, it is counter to one’s entire _being_ because everything you knew is gone. As for having ‘enough’ facts, that’s where theory comes in … that’s how you know you have ‘enough’ facts.

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