Ethnographic Process Homo Narrans Essay

Published: 2020-02-16 22:20:12
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Category: Ethnography

Type of paper: Essay

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With her assertion in Number Our Days that humankind is a species of homo-narrans, Barbara Myerhoff describes us as story-telling creatures. We identify, express, discover and categorize ourselves based on the legends and lore of our cultural heritage as well as the anecdotal accounts of our personal lives. The works we have read support Myerhoffs assertion, demonstrating through the narratives that humans define their world through stories at the same time that their stories define them.

Myerhoff, Cruikshank and Fabian all respond to humans as story-telling beings, employing ethnographic strategies based on a holistic combination of qualitative and quantitative research. In her Number Our Days, Myerhoff gathered exhaustive narratives from the senior Jewish population of Venice, California. Likewise, Cruikshanks interviews with the Yukon elders in Life Lived Like a Story reveal how thoroughly she participates with the ethnographic study of man as homo-narrans. (I particularly liked Angelas story of balancing old and new customs.

Similarly, Fabians Power and Performance supports itself upon qualitative fieldwork, contributing a plethora of anecdotal information to African anthropological studies. All authors interacted with and affected the social environment in which they worked, their studies not only speaking to the lives of their research subjects but the research and researchers themselves. I support the ways these authors respond to the notion of mankind as homo-narrans. People tell stories in life as a way to communicate their identity and beliefs, their backgrounds and ambitions.

The only challenges I foresee lie in the fact that personal accounts are not always representative of the group to which they belong. And while it is impossible not to affect the sample population from which researchers derive information, to feel personally moved even to advocate on its behalf, it seems best that researchers remain objective in their studies, at least for the duration of those studies. A mind clouded with passion is not a viable tool of rational inquiry or observation. Once the study is complete, I could not fault a researcher for advocating people s/he discovered to be in need of help in the course of the inquiry.

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