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Geoff
Aug 6th, 2004, 11:51 AM
G'Day All,

I asked my anthropologist daughter, Mair, to look at this thread and maybe have some input. This is her response:

As a PhD student in anthropology I am very interested in the debate regarding veganism during fieldwork. Having been vegetarian all my life this is an issue I have considered.

On the one hand: Anthropologists are meant to conduct participant observation which, as I understand it, means that we participate as actively as possible in the culture we are studying. Anthropologists should try to avoid ethnocentrism and hence should not impose our morals and values on others. Rather we should aim for cultural relativism and attempt to understand a practice from within it's own cultural context.

On the other hand: the equation 'the anthropologist must do whatever the people studied are doing' is too simplistic. Anthropologists study gangs in which murders and other crimes are part of their culture - does this mean that the anthropologist should also become a criminal?

There are many ethical dilemmas that arise as a result of doing fieldwork in a different culture, and they are very complex.

I, personally, do not think I could eat meat in order to conduct better research. Luckily I've never been faced with the decision as I've done 'anthropology at home'.

As for your (hankie's) decision - I don't envy your position. I suppose all you can do is decide how much you are willing to change your behaviour (and only you can make that decision), and then be reflexive about how your participation (or lack of) in the various practices of the group affected your research

~*Blue*~
Sep 2nd, 2004, 06:38 PM
Oh, no! Poor guy... I suppose the only way to avoid eating it and possibly even to stop them from killing the goat would be to come up with some rare disease and say that you would land in hospital immediately if you had even a little bit of meat. And then always cook your own food. But geez! I really hope I never find myself in such a situation.

By the way, I did once meet a woman who was vegetarian, not for ethical reasons, but because she had a meat allergy.

ha! i tell waiters that i have a dairy allergy and a difficult time digesting meat, people make damn sure that there aren't animal products on your plate if they think it will make you sick. back to topic: i see your point about eating non-vegan food b/c of being an anthropologist. at the same time, i do think that you could eat with the family but just eat their vegetable dishes without "tainting" them with your lifestyle.