From the native's point of view: on the nature of anthropological understanding
in: Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. 28 no. 1 (1974), pp. 26-45.


(by Clifford Geertz)




The publication of B. Malinowski's A DIARY IN THE STRICT SENSE OF THE TERM (no publication information available) openly admitted that the impression of an anthropologist doing his work by perfectly blending with the local environment was a myth. This raises the difficult problem of the degree to which anthropological findings can be credible if no special form of psychological closeness to the native culture can be claimed S's the field worker. A helpful attempt is psychoanalyst H. Kohut's distinction (no publication information available) between experience-near & experience-distant concepts, suggesting that the field worker should adhere to another culture's concepts is discussed in a study of the idea of the self as entertained by Javanese, Balinese, & Moroccans. Instead of typically imagining himself in the place of informants & examining his own feelings, a method was used based on searching out & analyzing the symbolic forms (words, images, institutions, behavior) in terms of which S's represent themselves to themselves & to others. The procedure involves simultaneously asking 2 sets of questions about the natives: what is the general form of their life, & what exactly are the vehicles in which that form is embodied? S. Karganovic




source: Sociological Abstracts Inc. (paper version)


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