Native speakers can rarely explain the grammatical rules of their own language. In the same way, those who are most ‘fluent’ in the rituals, customs and traditions of a particular culture generally lack the detachment necessary to explain the ‘grammar’ of these practices in an intelligible manner. This is why we have anthropologists.
– Kate Fox
I came across this quote in a little book by British popular anthropologist Kate Fox, and though it is a simplistic statement, I kind of like the way it presents anthropologists – it does makes us sound very important, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, in my field of study, all of the computer people I interview prove to be very reflective and often discuss community structure and governance issues with a fair bit of detachment. So I often end up discussing these topics with them on equal terms. I wonder whether I can still call it anthropology… 🙂
I’m in Oslo this week, interviewing another couple of Ubuntu hackers, and learning even more about how it is to participate in Free Software development. I’m getting to the point where I have so much data that I’m really looking forward to beginning the thesis writing proper and see what sense I can make of all of this.