By Dougal Dixon
What unique creatures does the next day to come carry? Dougal Dixon's vintage paintings of speculative anthropology blends technology and myth in a gorgeous zoology of the future.
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However, in this kind of situation it is more important than ever to retain a common core of shared concepts and some Fieldwork and its Interpretation 39 shared knowledge of culture and social systems if the discipline is to remain one. This book aims at presenting – and critically engaging with – the bulk of this common foundation, which makes it possible for anthropologists everywhere to have informed professional exchanges, even if their specialisations are very different. If we lacked such a shared professional language, we would not have a common discipline, nor would we be able to exchange ideas and experiences across the many specialisations and emerging subdisciplines.
THEORY AND DATA The relationship between theory and empirical material, or data, is fundamental in all empirical science, including anthropology. No science can rely on theory alone (it then becomes pure mathematics or philosophy), just as it cannot rely on pure facts: in that case, it would be unable to tell us anything interesting. To put it differently, research has an inductive and a deductive dimension. Induction consists of going out there, ‘watching and wondering’, collecting information about what people say and do.
The suggested distinction between description and analysis, although helpful, is not absolute. Even the description is necessarily shaped by the anthropologist’s selection of facts and own interpretations, and he or she can never become a native. In addition, it would be plainly impossible to include everything in a description, even if one’s aim is to provide a comprehensive account of a society and one has a thousand pages at one’s disposal. 36 Small Places, Large Issues EMIC AND ETIC Let us look a little more closely at the relationship between the view from within and the view from the outside.