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"But an important caution must here be entered. Natives speak with such horror about the various forms of ugliness, and repulsion is so clearly discernible in their behaviour that there is no temptation to doubt their word. In fact, in games and amusements, an albino, an idiot, or a man afflicted with skin disease is so completely left out of the fun that his loneliness and isolation wake pity even in the frigid heart of an ethnographer. Thus observation fully confirmed the verbal proposition in which all the natives are agreed, that all such people are absolutely debarred from sexual intercourse and that they have to resort to solitary means of satisfaction." --The Sexual Life of Savages (1929) by Bronisław Malinowski

"Si l’Occident a produit des ethnographes, c’est qu’un bien puissant remords devait le tourmenter, l’obligeant à confronter son image à celle de sociétés différentes dans l’espoir qu’elles réfléchiront les mêmes tares ou l’aideront à expliquer comment les siennes se sont développées dans son sein. […] L’ethnographe peut d’autant moins se désintéresser de sa civilisation et se désolidariser de ses fautes que son existence même est incompréhensible, sinon comme une tentative de rachat : il est le symbole de l’expiation."--Tristes Tropiques (1955) by Claude Lévi-Strauss

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Ethnography (ethnos = people and graphein = writing) is the genre of writing that presents varying degrees of qualitative and quantitative descriptions of human social phenomena, based on fieldwork. Ethnography presents the results of a holistic research method founded on the idea that a system's properties cannot necessarily be accurately understood independently of each other. The genre has both formal and historical connections to travel writing and colonial office reports. Several academic traditions, in particular the constructivist and relativist paradigms, employ ethnographic research as a crucial research method. Many cultural anthropologists consider ethnography the essence of the discipline.

See also

Notable ethnographers

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