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The Forest People

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Participant observation is defined as first hand experience. Participant observation is a method developed by Anthropologists in the early 20th century. When Anthropologists noticed that in order to fully understand the question, “Why” in culture. Why do a certain people do this, why is that important, or why do they all do it, are just some of the questions anthropologists use participant observation. The key to participant observation is fieldwork, where the anthropologist actively lives with the people of the culture they are studying for about a year or more. Where the anthropologist goes through culture shock by leaving all their possessions at home and starting a new. This technique of studying gets the anthropologist to become one with the culture, where they participate in ceremony’s and traditions with the people as a member. So much so that they go through culture shock once they return home, because they have opened their minds to a whole new way of thinking and living.
Colin M. Turnbull is an anthropologist who went to live in the Ituri Forest with a group of people called the Pygmies. The Pygmies is a culture that many people before Turnbull mistaken as uneducated and weren’t living life to the fullest because of this. Turnbull had two voyages to the Forest where in his first voyage he saw the Nkumbi ritual and was inducted as a member of the Pygmies. Two years later he went back to the forest leaving everything behind, unlike his first voyage where he believed he could learn everything from just observing. Turnbull lived for three years with the Pygmies; he went through many culture shocks. He had first had experience with the Molimo, Nkumbi and Elima, which to him all seemed odd. If hadn’t Turnbull used the method of participant observation he would have never learned that each ceremony had a meaning behind its odd actions. He actively learned in...

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