Rhea, on Jun 22 2004, 04:15 AM, said:
Anthropology is probably the purest of the social sciences, because it's purely observational. In other words, everything you cite is simply a way of describing observed behavior.
One of the reasons I became an anthro major in the first place is because there is no value judgement involved in anthro. Pyschology studies what is "normal" or "abnormal" behavior for individuals. Sociology, in its way, does the same for groups of human beings.
Anthropologists don't deal in right or wrong or normal and abnormal for groups of human beings or other related species - they record behavior and attach labels to that behavior for the simple convenience of having a descriptor so that the behavior can be discussed and categorized in some common form. To an anthropologist dominance displays are simply a commonly observed form of behavior. Period.
The problem comes when you take those studies out of the context for which they were intended and try to attach a value to them.
All an anthrolopologist cares about is describing homosexuality as it occurs in whatever group of primates that anthrolopologist is studying, and how a homosexual individual interacts with other individuals in a group. Period.
Clifford Geertz's essay "'From the Native's Point of View': On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding" argues that anthropologists are just as human as the rest of us. He continues this argument in his book Works and Lives
where he analyzes the methods and results of anthropologists like Malinowski, Levi-Strauss and Benedict. His work questions the purported objectivity of anthropologists and points out that the anthropologist's observations and the conclusions drawn about those observations are filtered through the anthropologist's cultural assumptions and thereby distorted.
Moreover, science has repeatedly shown that the very act of observation impacts the observed.
Simply labeling a behavior a "dominance display" indicates cultural attitudes regarding that behavior and impacts future reactions to it by those who hear or read the label. Value judgements can be implicit in the very labels used.