Re: M & I

Tue, 9 Apr 1996 09:34:00 PDT

Lesley writes:

"This is, to me, the problem with observing the religions of other groups.
We must view through our "lens" which has been built over the years by
our culture. Hence, our observations are doomed to be colored by our past."

If it were the case that we are incapable of recognizing the effect of our
cultural situatedness, then we would, indeed, be in "hot water." One of the
primary goals of extended field work is precisely to gain perspective by
moving outside of one's own culture. WHile I am no fan of the post-modern
ideology, the notion of giving the other voice could be read as saying that
we need to be a listener to what "they" are saying (i.e., remove our own
cultural baggage). What is usually left out, though, is the role we also
play as scientists trying to make sense of the particularistic phenomena we
observe as instances of general processes which structure human societies.

D. Read