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Tim Ingold – Knowing from the Inside

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Name: Mohammad Usama (12391)

Summaries for session 4

Reading 1: Tim Ingold – Knowing from the inside.

To learn is to live through. Ingold argues that an anthropologist must experience the lives lived by their subjects of study. Therefore, researchers study with people, and learn from them. Anthropology and ethnography are similar, but not the same thing. In ethnography, you study people and their communities. In anthropology, you try to become one of them in order to tap into their ways of thinking. So it is a difference between studying with and studying of (ethnography). Secondly, ethnographic research looks back at what is studied, but anthropology uses the newly learned skills and looks forward. Anthropological research is transformational, while ethnographic is documentary.

What Anthropologists do is more along the lines of participant observation. This observation is supposed to be open ended and qualitative, as opposed to objective and empirical in the case of ethnography. It is opposed to the idea of data collection because such collection is based on observing from the outside rather than the inside. The theorist makes through thinking, while the craftsman thinks through the process of making or experience. The Anthropologist is more in line with the craftsman here – a process the author calls the art of inquiry.

Through the example of art, the author talks about the problematic nature of studying things as Anthropologies of by stating that this method creates objects of study and thus limits the researcher. Instead, we should employ the concept of Anthropology with in order to learn from creations of art. Anthropology of architecture and of archaeology are predominantly untouched subjects. The author believes that more work needs to be conducted in their cases so that holistic understandings of societies can be achieved.

Reading 2: Arjun Appadurai – Putting hierarchy in its place.

Faced with the disappearance of natives as they imagined them, some anthropologists run the risk of substituting reflexivity for fieldwork. All genealogies are selective, as any good historian of ideas would recognize because every genealogy is a choice among a virtually infinite set of genealogies that make up the problem of influence and source in intellectual history. Every idea ramifies indefinitely backward in time, and at each critical historical juncture, key ideas ramify indefinitely into their own horizontal, contemporary contexts.

In Dumont's (1970) conception of hierarchy as the key to caste society in India, we see the convergence of three distinct trajectories in Western thought. First there is the urge to essentialize, which characterized the Orientalist forebears of anthropology. The second tendency involves exoticizing, by making differences be-tween "self" and other the sole criteria for comparison. The third trajectory involves totalizing, that is, making specific features of a society's thought or practice not only its essence but also its totality. Hierarchy, in Dumont's argument, becomes the essence of caste, the key to its exoticism, and the form of its totality.

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