“Culture is interpretation. Facts are made, and the facts we interpret are made and remade. They cannot be collected as if they were rocks, picked up and put into cartons and shipped home to be analyzed in the laboratory.” Refelections on Fieldwork in Morocco by Paul Rabinow was my book choice for February.
It is a great book for people who wish to get a little deeper insight on anthropology and the work anthropologists can do. It is also insightful to how interpretations can take place between different cultures, how perspectives and situations matter, where our eyes are set to be seen from and how the person seen chooses to present his subjects. It is quiet mind moving, and gets us thinking about the way we view new cultures when we first get introduced to them, and since today we live in a cosmopolitan world through the internet if not through the cities we live in, the way we perceive new cultures lies on the hands of both the viewer and the viewed. And I personally think, it is becoming more important today, to open up the spaces between our understanding to the tool of communication.
Bourdieu in his afterword in Reflection on Fieldwork in Morocco said, “But, as is usual with these matters involving much more cognitive understanding, we must not believe too quickly in our own comprehension.’ And I believe this does not only go to Anthropologists per se, maybe Anthropologists should just be more aware of their comprehension since they tend to later communicate their comprehension of their study, but at least we need to highlight to ourselves and to others, that our comprehension is according to the situation we were in, and different comprehension is always possible.
Bourdieu also compares our communication relationship with what Jean Piaget once said, “it is not so much that children don’t know how to talk: they try out many languages until they find the one their parents can understand”, and this opens up a wide spectrum to our reflection on what we encounter, for truly, I for one, would communicate differently depending on the person who is of my opposite. How I predict their level of understanding of my world will affect my choice to how I wish to communicate it to them.