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Direction 1: The fieldwork in anthropology

A fieldwork based only on participant observation and interviews, with no reflexivity, remains blind to the question of its conditions of possibility. But a research which would focus only on epistemological questions, without a direct knowing of a definite culture, would not fulfill the definition of the discipline, which is precisely to combine an empirical research with a reflexive thinking of what is actually done in the field.
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Parking aux ânes (Maroc)
Crédits : M.-L. Gélard

Therefore, we believe that the anthropological methodology and epistemology have only a meaning if they are embedded in empirical investigations. The making of models in our discipline must “stick” to the practices of social agents, in order to avoid artificial constructs imported from other disciplines (philosophy, sociology, history ...). To be relevant, models in anthropology should have two sides: to give an account of cultures and societies in details, and to establish categories which should be general enough to organize a scientific discourse aiming at universality. But this set of concepts could not be implemented without the solid establishment of comparison as a central method: this is the linchpin of our approach. Indeed, cultural anthropologists do not compare abstract ideas, but systems, activities, structures, in their context. And the ultimate goal should be for us to compare cultures and societies, including our own, in order to bring out the differences and similarities which would be invisible without this method. Finally, the anthropological comparison is just a tool: it should allow us to understand better the consensus and/or contradictions of meaning(s).

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