Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to do anthropological research?

On friday we presented our paper about youth identities in Johannesburg. The focus of our in-depth interviews and ethnographies was on the intersection of race, gender, class and sexuality. The results will be compared with Cape Town, Chicago, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. A young and ambitious man was very scathing in his critique saying that it lacked depth, was not anthropological and was spending donor money with little results. In sum, it was deemed a fashion and not proper research.

I was trying to understand what his beef was. But I am still not clear. A large part of the presentation was about race and how it evolves and how people of different "races" relate to each other - was he unhappy with what we said about race? I mean he never criticized the substance of what we presented. He only talked about methodology and what proper anthropology was and what was not.

My experience with race-talk in South Africa is that in any public forum, people will rarely express in any direct way what they actually mean. So one is always faced with trying to figure out what they are trying to express. So over the next week I will try to understand better what was actually going on during discussions.

Saturday night I had a great dinner with good friends and dancing and partying in Melville. It was very cathartic. One can bemoan many things in Jozi, but the people here are great to go out and party with.


Pauline said...

Yes,to me it seems that race is every where and in the same time very taboo. I'm surprised how much people here auto-stereotype themselves.

Lesley Emanuel said...

Sorry, this isn't post-related...
I just wanted to say I love your background colour, Thomas! :-)

Nanou said...

I'm joining the precedent reader to congratulate you on your new layout!

Wanjiku said...

Hi Thomas. Glad to see that your blog's not dead :D
Glad Jozi continues to treat you well. Sometimes.
Re: race. I think it's the human condition... if it's not race it's religion, or income level, or accent, etc. Suppose we humans love to feel special and will find some way to establish superiority over the next person?