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Renato Rosaldo's Ilongot Headhunting, 1883-1974

In fact, the point is made that to apply inappropriate concepts to a study of such a group as the Ilongots is itself a bias which is clearly counter-productive in terms of understanding the people.

For example, the author warns of the "weaknesses of synchronic studies in anthropology" and the impossibility of trying "to fit the results of our investigation into the classic ethnographic mold." He adds that in studies such as that of the Ilongots

one encounters forms of life that are simply unsuited for the set of conceptual tools developed by conventional ethnographic methods (1).

In other words, it would be a bias to see the study of the Ilongots as simply another investigation of people which fits neatly into the framework applied to earlier studies of other groups. There is also the potential bias of viewing a unique group like the Ilongots from the Western perspective, using Western standards of behavior. Rosaldo avoids such a bias by allowing himself to become involved in the lives of the Ilongots and to develop not only a sympathetic attitude, but to keep his own position in the research in mind.

Rosaldo selects a historical perspective, which allows him to compare his own approach to other, earlier ethnographers, and to include himself and his own position with respect to the people he is studying:

I begin by reflecting on the differences between my world and the world of William Jones, an ethnographer who knew the Ilongots late in the first decade of t


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Renato Rosaldo's Ilongot Headhunting, 1883-1974. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 17:08, October 25, 2014, from
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