teams <was pairwise, biting mccreey...>

Mon, 22 May 1995 08:52:47 +1200

>Erik Kassebaum replied to Professor Thornton,
... Have you ever been in the field with your spouse,
>one of your children, or a student? Did any of these people ever help you
>to see or understand something new? Anthropologists are not lone wolfs -
>we are social beings.
> The team approach is a much more effective way to synthesize a more
>authentic ethnography of a complex group.

I agree in principle, but am still finding the practice rather complex.
There are teams and there are teams. My husband went with me to the field
and his observations and understandings enriched the study immeasurably. I
am now part of a team research project in which 7, soon to be 10+, members
are gathering data, contributing to research design and interpretation, and
will eventually play varying roles in writing. These are two very
different processes, partly due to scale, partly due to differences
intimacy of communication between team members, and partly due to the other
party's intentions re publication. Not to mention differences in types of
research questions. Some of the complexities involve how to adequately
communicate what subjects say, vs researchers insights. Some are simply
the amount of time that goes into coordination and communication between
team members. I certainly agree that teamwork enriches our efforts and
that it should be part of our toolkit or whatever. But I think that true
ethnographic teamwork between a group of equal academic partners is hard to
achieve, and that ethnographies will remain interpretive no matter how many
people are involved. IMO, that's not a bad thing, as long as we are clear
about the epistemological status of what we produce.

I'd like to speculate more on this, and to read the rest of the thread, but
I have to do some management for that team thing before I start teaching
this morning.