Necessary Bias

Often, when reading literature, the credibility of the speaker often comes into question. Is the speaker telling the whole truth, or are there some things unspoken or overlooked that are crucial to the story? After reading work by Crapanzano however, I have realized that these questions would be applied to anthropological and non-fiction works as well.

I first became concerned over authors inserting their points of view in objective works when on page 133 of Tulhami, Crapanzano admits that he can no longer maintain the appropriate emotional distance from his informant. I found this honesty refreshing, but it led me to question the rest of his work and from that point on, Tulhami and his own version of reality became more credible to me than Crapanzano’s interpretations and details.

I was reminded of this again when we read Crapanzano for a second time when he stated that his “study is necessarily biased. (Crapanzano 9, 1981) This suggests that Crapanzano is aware of his own interpretations and perspective filtering into his work. What worries me is that it is more difficult to tell when this is occurring in the other anthropological works we read for this class. This is something that I intend to keep in mind as the semester progresses.

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