Anthropology's comparative value(s)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Anthropologists often have to justify their research to ethics and funding committees composed mostly of mainstream social-behavioral scientists. In making their case, anthropologists face a dilemma in representing their discipline's distinctive research practices. For many anthropologists, the value of ethnographic work derives from its global comparativism and socially embedded realism; for students especially, ethnographic fieldwork's value relative to alternatives is rooted in field-workers’ sustained relationships with their interlocutors. But from a conventionally objectivist social-behavioral science perspective, being with and learning from people on the latter's terms is incoherent as science. Socially embedded research methods are also devalued by ethics review protocols, which situate replicability as the social-behavioral research norm. A comparative understanding of anthropology's disciplinary neighborhood may provide students with critical resources for reinventing anthropology's distinctively grounded research value(s) for future generations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)17-23
    Number of pages7
    JournalAmerican Ethnologist
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 2024

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Anthropology


    • comparative disciplinary value(s)
    • fieldwork pedagogy
    • realism and replicability
    • research ethics
    • research practices


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