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Methods, Meanings, and Representations in the Study of Past Tibetan Societies
Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: n.d.
Sources ID: 126591
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)

This paper outlines a methodology that makes possible a nuanced understanding of past Tibetan societies by exploring the tensions between structure and agency. Ethnographic data from a recent project on the historical demography of Skyid grong District is used to demonstrate how one can move beyond normative descriptions of a past society by using interviewees as both informants (who impart normative views) and respondents (who reflect on their own individual circumstances). In this way one can gain a perspective on the widely accepted rules of a society, while also using case studies to illustrate how individuals negotiated these rules in practice. This paper details the process by which one particular anthropologist came to know what he claims to know, and as such is a commentary on the reliability and validity of ethnographic data. (Than Garson 2005-09-22)