The relationship of feminism and anthropology can convey a new development to the manner descriptive anthropologies are written and done. Lila Abu-Lughod ‘s statement women’s rightist descriptive anthropology is an ‘ethnography with adult females at the Centre written for adult females by adult females ‘ can be seen as an attempt to happen a distinguishable manner of making and composing descriptive anthropology. In this essay I will look at the roots of feminism and feminist anthropology. I will so discourse Abu-Lughod ‘s statement and seek to explicate how her statement is good to anthropology and whether it is possible to make research her manner. I will secondly look at the advantages and disadvantages of the statement. I will concentrate on impressions of partial individuality and objectiveness. Finally, I will reason by discoursing some of the issues environing the authorization of adult females, and that although Abu-Lughod ‘s statement does hold some benefits it misses the of import point. I will reason that feminist descriptive anthropology should be used as a political tool for deprived adult females and it should reflect a “ corporate, dialectical procedure of edifice theory through battles for alteration ” ( Enslin:1994:545 ) .
Feminism can be defined as ‘both a societal motion and a position on society. As a societal motion, it has challenged the historical subordination of adult females and advocated political, societal, and economic equality between the sexes. As a societal and sociological position, it has examined the functions that sex and gender drama in structuring society, every bit good as the mutual function that society dramas in structuring sex and gender ‘ ( Oxford dictionary 2007 ) . There are three chief classs in which the different moving ridges of feminism can be divided. Among the first one which was from 1850 to 1920, during this period most research was carried out by work forces. Feminists aimed to convey the voice of adult females in descriptive anthropology, they gave a different angle on experiences of adult females and the environing events. This brought a new angle because male descriptive anthropologies merely had the chance to interview other work forces e.g. what were adult females like. Important figures during this period were P.Kayberry who worked with B.Malinowski at LSE. She focused on faith but she examined work forces and adult females in her work.
Traveling on to the 2nd moving ridge of which was from 1920s to 1980s, here the separation between sex and gender was made by of import women’s rightists. Sexual activity as nature and gender as civilization. This takes us to the nature civilization duality which is of import when we are concentrating on the subordination of adult females in different societies. The dualities between sex/gender, work/home, men/women, and nature/culture are of import in societal theory for raising arguments. Important figures in the 2nd moving ridge feminism were Margaret Mead she made a batch of part in her work on the diverseness of civilizations here she helped to breakdown the prejudice that was based on constructs of what is natural, and she put more accent on civilization in people ‘s development. Most of import work ‘s of Mead was Coming of Age in Samoa ( 1928 ) . Another of import figure was Eleanor Leacock who was a Marxist feminist anthropologist. She focused on catholicity of female subordination and argued against this claim.
This 2nd moving ridge of feminism was influenced by a figure of events in history, the 1960s was closely linked to political agitation in Europe and North America, like the anti-Vietnam war motion and the civil rights motion. Feminism was something that grew out of these political events during the sixtiess. Feminism argued that political relations and cognition were closely linked with each other so women’s rightists were concerned with cognition and we have to oppugn the cognition that was being given to us. Feminism during 1960s called for the constitution of adult females ‘s authorship, universities, feminist sociology and a feminist political order which would be classless.
Feminists became interested in anthropology, because they looked to ethnography as a beginning of information about whether adult females were being dominated everyplace by work forces. What are some of the ways that adult females are populating different societies, was there grounds of equality between work forces and adult females. Did matriarchal societies of all time exist and to acquire the replies to such inquiries they turned to ethnography.
This takes us to the issue of descriptive anthropology and what we understand about adult females in different societies. It became obvious that traditional ethnographic work ignored adult females. Some of the issues environing adult females are ; ethnograhies did non speak about adult females ‘s universes, it did non speak about what went on in adult females ‘s lives, what they thought and what their functions were. When we discuss the inquiry are adult females truly subordinated, we realize that we do non cognize much about adult females in different societies. B.Malinowski ‘s work on the Kula did discourse the male function in the exchange of valuables. But during the 1970s Anette Weiner ( 1983 ) went to analyze the same society and she found out adult females are playing an of import function in Trobriand society excessively. Their involved with the Kula, exchanges, rites etc but Malinowski ne’er wrote about it. Female anthropologists of the seventiess would travel and look for of import work forces, and so they would analyze their values, their societies, what was of import to them. These anthropologists assumed, that work forces followed male logics in this public/private divide in line with this divide between the domestic and public sphere. They would besides presume that what went on in the populace sphere, economic system, political relations was more of import the domestic side.
The construct of objectiveness came to be regarded as a manner of male power. Feminists claimed that scientific ideals of catholicity, eternity, and objectiveness were inherently male-dominated and that the more feminist properties of particularism, empathy and emotionalism were devalued ( Abu-Lughod 1990 ) . Feminists argued that to take over male domination these female properties had to be given more importance and made clear. Abu-Lughod ‘s ideal manner of making research is when a female ethnographer takes portion in the descriptive anthropology, instead so taking herself, who listens to other adult females ‘s voice and gives histories ( Abu-Lughod 1990 ) . The female ethnographer is able to make so because although the adult females studied differ from the ethnographer, she portions portion of the individuality of her source. The female research worker therefore has the appropriate “ tools ” to understand the other adult female ‘s life ( Abu-Lughod 1990 ) . this is why harmonizing to Abu-Lughod female descriptive anthropology should be an descriptive anthropology with adult females at the Centre written by and for adult females. Abu-Lughod says that early women’s rightist anthropologists did non truly make anything about cognition. They had good purposes but they did n’t make much as they were trapped in ways of thought that had been given to them by the masculine nature of the academy.
Let us now discuss the first portion of Abu-Lughod ‘s statement, whether feminist descriptive anthropology should be an descriptive anthropology with adult females at the Centre written by adult females. Abu-Lughod claims that adult females understand other adult females in a better manner. The female research worker portions some signifier of individuality with her topic of survey ( Abu-Lughod 1990, Caplan 1988 ) . For illustration some adult females have experience of signifier of male domination which puts the research worker in a good place to understand the adult females being researched. At the same clip, the research worker keeps a certain distance from her source and therefore can both hold a partial designation with her topic of survey, so film overing the differentiation between the ego and other, and still being able to account being able to account for others ‘ discreteness ( Strathern position in Caplan 1988 ) . In a Weberian sense, the female research worker can utilize herself as an ‘ideal type ‘ by analysing the similarities and differences between herself and other adult females. Harmonizing to Abu-Lughod, this is the best objectiveness that achieved ( Abu-Lughod 1990, Weber 1949 ) . Pat Caplan ( 1988 ) offers a good illustration of partial individuality and understanding between adult females. Harmonizing to Caplan the most of import undertaking for an ethnographer is to seek and understand the people whom she is analyzing. Caplan writes about the research she did in Tanzania, East Africa. In her mid-twentiess, the adult females in the small town were happy, satisfied and free but when she went back ten old ages subsequently she realized the jobs adult females were confronting daily. While Caplan could non sympathize with her sources at an earlystage of her life, because their individualities were excessively different, she could atleast make in her mid-thirtiess. In comparing a male ethnographer would likely ne’er have realized the troubles adult females are confronting in their society ( Caplan 1988 ) .
There are two unfavorable judgments to this statement. First, to understand adult females, the female ethnographer has to take work forces into history every bit good because as it has been argued in the 2nd moving ridge of feminism the relationship between work forces and adult females is an of import factor to understand society. So the ‘partial individuality ‘ between adult females that gives Abu-Lughod ‘s statement its importance but it loses it when a adult male enters the phase ( Caplan 1988 ) . Second, there is a danger to feminist ethnographers who merely base their surveies on adult females, handling adult females as the ‘problem ‘ or exclusion of anthropological research and composing monographs for a female audience. In the 1980s women’s rightist authors have argued that the building if merely two sexes and genders is arbitrary and unreal. Peoples ‘s sexual individualities are infact between the two ‘extremes ‘ of male and female. By merely looking at adult females ‘s universes and covering with an limited female audience, feminist ethnographers, even though emphasizing the marginalized portion of the dualism, implement the traditional classs of work forces and adult females instead so leting for a plurality of gender of genders ( Moore 1999, Caplan 1988 ) .
Nancy Hartstock says “ why is it that merely when capable or marginalized peoples like inkinesss, the colonized and adult females have begun to hold and demand a voice, they are told by the white male childs that there can be no important talker or capable ” ( Abu-Lughod, p.17 ) . To be in favor of Abu-Lughod ‘s statement it can be said that possibly the seting forward of this sort of ideal types, or points of mention, of ‘men ‘ and ‘women ‘ is what we need in order non to fall victim to dashing relativity and imprecise ethnographic work ( Moore 1999, Harraway 1988 ) . For Abu-Lughod it is of import for the ethnographer to be seeable, this is because the reader can contextualize and understand the ethnographer in a of import manner. Whether the ethnographer is a adult female should besides be made clear. The ethnographer would besides hold to state the reader about all of her background e.g. economic, geographic, national so the reader can decently understand the research. By merely stating that the ethnographer is female and that she is making research about adult females for adult females, the differences between all these adult females are overlooked. For illustration what would a white middle-class American individual adult female have in common with a hapless Sudanese adult female from the desert who has seven kids, than she has in common with a middle-class Indian man of affairs who flies to San Francisco atleast twice a twelvemonth? ( Caplan 1988 ) . Womans are different everyone in the universe and they come from different civilizations so how can a ethnographer even if she ‘s female say that she can compose descriptive anthropologies about adult females and for adult females in general? It is improbable that a non-western, non-middle category, non anthropologist will read the female descriptive anthropology written by a feminist bookman ( Abu-Lughod 1990, Caplan 1988 ) . There is a danger to implicitly use Western stereotypes of feminity when making research on adult females in parts of the universe where the thought of ‘being adult female ‘ might be really different from the one we are familiar with ( Abu-Lughod 1990 ) .
This unfavorable judgment, is non wholly disregarding Abu-Lughod ‘s statement because the anthropologist explicitly talks about partial individuality non absolute designation or sameness. Abu-Lughod ‘s theory is strong in a manner besides, because she emphasizes specialness instead than catholicity and generalization. In Donna Haraway ‘s words, “ The lone manner to happen a larger vision, is to be someplace in peculiar ” ( Haraway 1988, p.590 ) . Abu-Lughod focal points on halting the male-centeredness in human scientific discipline. This, as has been argued, is non plenty: If adult females genuinely want to counter the male-centeredness in ethnographic authorship, they non merely have to acquire rid of the fact that it is largely written by work forces for work forces, but should besides counter all the other facets of alleged scientific ideals such as catholicity, objectiveness, generalization, abstractness and eternity. Female descriptive anthropologies, in that sense, do non hold to be about adult females merely in order to be distinguishable from conventional or “ male ” descriptive anthropology ( Lutz 1995 ) .
On the other manus, women’s rightist bookmans have argued that male research workers tend to disregard adult females ‘s lives and histories, see it as inappropriate to compose about them or happen it unneeded to cover with their issues ( Caplan 1988 ) . In that sense, in order to counterbalance this instability, person, i.e. the feminist bookmans, has to ‘do the occupation ‘ in order to give more power to adult females ( Caplan 1988, Haraway 1988 ) .
The engagement of adult females in public life has changed specially after the 2nd universe war, but there are still differences: adult females ‘s voices are considered as being less competent, irrational, emotional and non worthy ( Lutz 1995 ) . Feminist bookmans have besides faced troubles in the professional universe, they might non hold faced bias against their theories but state of affairss like happening publishing houses for their research, less occupation chances ( Caplan 1988 ) . Feminists in return have reacted to this by following a ‘tactic of opposition ‘ , instead than absorbing to ‘masculine ‘ subjects or manners of composing, they have stressed and looked for their distinguishable feminist ethnographic manner ( Lutz 1995 ) . Abu-Lughod has therefore by conveying up her theory given power to anthropological women’s rightists she has given them a tool to reflect different worlds in a ‘female ‘ manner.
This statement raises another inquiry of who is really being empowered by a feminist descriptive anthropology. Is it the adult females who are being studied? Or the feminist ethnographers themselves?
What should count more than automatic descriptive anthropology or a feminist manner of composing. What should count more than the manner an descriptive anthropology is constructed, or the manner it is seen by the reader ; what should count more is the decisions the research worker draws from ethnographic work and how it its put into practice and used to authorise the sources themselves. This applies more to a female descriptive anthropology that needs to counter the favoritism of adult females all over the universe ( Enslin 1994 ) . It is of import to give adult females their voice by composing about them but besides histories of marginalized adult females by themselves ( e.g. autobiographies of black non-western adult females ) remain marginalized, even in the field of adult females ‘s authorship or surveies: women’s rightist descriptive anthropology in Abu-Lughod ‘s footings therefore undermines the bureau of the adult females who are being studied ( Enslin 1994 ) . Female ethnographic authorship has besides been criticized for being exploitatory. When a female research worker tells personal life narratives and jobs of the adult females whom she is analyzing, the research worker tends to give more confidant inside informations than more positive “ masculine ” research workers do, for her ain academic intents she is misapplying her sources ( Enslin 1994 ) .