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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 17 / 43

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While the Japanese, French and U.S. traditions were “ecological,” substantial differences existed in theory and methods. The French and Japanese viewed ecology from a natural history perspective and consequently emphasized detailed, if not encyclopedic in the case of the French, descriptions of forest forager subsistence and settlement. U.S. researchers viewed ecology from an evolutionary perspective so their research emphasized theory rather than ethnography. Japanese and French researchers shared a strong interest in natural history and ethnography, but their methods and approaches also differed. The French integrated their background in linguistics into natural history while the Japanese used the three ecological science perspectives described above. The three nationalities that comprise this ecological research tradition effectively complement one another, and have collectively revealed details of the relationships between people and the forest that Turnbull could never have foreseen.

Pronounced differences existed in field methods. British researchers used participant observation and interviews and very few or no systematic observations or quantification of behaviour, French ethnolinguists relied upon in-depth interviews with relatively few people, and Japanese researchers mixed observational data with some interview data. American researchers emphasized behavioural observations and varying amounts of interview data.

In summary, Americans tend to view French and Japanese research as too descriptive, atheoretical, and not very systematic/quantitative; the French and British tend to view American research as superficial because they pay little attention to language and interviews with local people; the Japanese tend to view the French research as too encyclopedic and American research as too narrowly focused and not very creative. British researchers tend to feel the other three traditions are heavily biased towards ecological issues and methods and lack important

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