One of the key ideas in postmodern anthropology is the rejection of the rhetorical strategies by past researchers to make themselves seem as though they were objective researchers. This stems from the idea that the third-person perspective doesn’t show how a researcher knows a fact that they are trying to assert. The third-person separates the researcher’s personal experience from an attempt to be objective, but this creates biases that are not always evident when reading their ethnographies. While many postmodernists have presented ideas to counter this historical way of writing, they fail to realize the full extent of possibilities available to them. Some have touched on it, but they fail to realize exactly what is necessary. In the postmodern world, it is crucial for modern anthropologists to learn the narrative format of fiction writers.
This is not to say that anthropology should evolve to strictly be more similar to journalism, this is simply a way for readers to understand where the anthropologist’s assertions are coming from and what biases are present in their research. By studying the narrative format, field anthropologists can tell their experience through their own lens. By making a book in the first-person, with the anthropologist as a sort of “main character”, we can come to an understanding of how these field researchers came to their conclusions. Think of this as creating a history of the anthropologist’s experience that can then be used as a basis to use for the rest of their research, as well as be a data set for future researchers.
While this does not present a solution to understanding the “others” voice, it will lead to a greater understanding of how the gap of cultural difference can be crossed. This can be done in a similar fashion to how the main character evolves throughout the book. It starts with a character being placed into unfamiliar surroundings, and through trials, this character can now gain a good understanding of the culture they are studying. This is a great way of showing exactly how a field researcher can claim to be an expert. It also would allow for an outsider to look in and debate if an anthropologist can truly claim to be an expert.
Just as a helpful side note, this form of writing can help counter the idea that most researchers don’t make that much money. When this style has been used in other fields of study, they have become bestsellers. So embracing a narrative format has potential in both the world of academia and in the economic world.