Ethics In Fieldwork Essay

Submitted By zeien11
Words: 963
Pages: 4

Ethics in Fieldwork

Nick Zeien

In partial fulfillment for the completion of Anthropology
1002 Section 1

Carole Edington

1 Anthropology simply can not exist without fieldwork. Fieldwork is essential in that an anthropologist can not effectively study a population without total immersion. With total immersion being necessary naturally problems can arise. The array of problems to be confronted by the anthropologist can be virtually endless. To show how one might react to these problems I will review two case studies and give my opinion, followed by ethical considerations, and finally how case studies can help anthropologists.

The first case study that I have chosen is , Case 7: Robbers, Rogues, or Revolutionaries. In this case study anthropologist Daniel Peters was studying family healthcare practices in Central America. During his studies Daniel was confronted in the street by his description to be soldiers, and not simple thieves. Daniel has virtually nothing to give, and the soldiers do not have a last name to try to identify him. In the end Daniel finds out that the men are government officials, and does not pursue the matter any further. Daniel also erases the names of those who have helped him from his journals. My cultural bias tells me that Daniel is in a volatile area of the world where speaking out about his situation may cause further unwanted investigation by the government. I feel that Daniel made the right decisions. Daniel did not try to push these officials by telling them what they were doing was wrong. He took precautions to ensure that the people helping him would remain anonymous. He allowed those who did not feel safe to leave his fieldwork. He persuaded the others involved in his field work that everything was safe. In the end Daniel had a set back, but realized the importance of his studies to the world. Daniel took all of the right steps in order to distance himself from the officials while still continuing his studies. If Daniel had pursued this case further he may have caused harm to not only himself but those who were helping him in his studies. Daniel did his best to protect those who helped him, and therefore may have gained some trust to aid in his studies. Though this case may have been very intimidating for Daniel his work continues. Thus ending the first case study. 2 The second case study that I have chose is, Case 3: Witness to Murder. In this case study anthropologist Mary Thompson is studying a Southeast Asian community. Mary has a house located on the edge of a plaza which allows her to observe the happenings in the plaza very effectively. Mary overhears an argument between men one night that ends in a murder. The victim is buried and the perpetrator is allowed to participate in the funeral, and is forced to pay a death payment to the family of the victim. Police come to investigate the murder in which the whole village says they have no knowledge of the murder. Mary follows suit saying that she has no knowledge of the murder. Mary had also taken precautions in that she documented the happenings of the murder, but she hid her field notes from the Police. I agree with Mary's actions. Mary realized that it is not her duty to push her cultural bias on the people she is studying. If the people of the village feel that they did the right thing in their culture Mary should not intervene. By not turning in the murder Mary may have also gained trust among the people she is studying. This trust established by following their cultural means could help propel Mary to the next level in her studies with this culture. Thus ending the second case study.