by Olivia Davis
Due to its origin in the Anthropology department at the University, HBERG’s research begins with an ethnographic approach and then moves into a more neurological research focus. Personally, I believe that this could be a beneficial sequence of events when it comes to incorporating anthropology and neurology into a research method because it evokes a relationship with the very people that could be hooked up to machines in the lab later on in the study. The type of understanding and trust that accompanies an ethnographer and a research participant in the field could potentially reduce the issue of a power dynamic when moved to a laboratory setting. There are, however, some less expensive and less invasive methods can be carried into the field but they come at somewhat of a cost in accuracy. As addressed in the article, these on-the-go neuroanthropological methods “compromise some precision” in terms of results. However, the trade-off may be worth the slight decrease in precision because these less complex methods allow for a more accessible neuroscience in the ethnographic field and provide an easily digestible pedagogy for both professors and future students who are interested in Neuroanthropology.
One thing that I found particularly compelling about the methodology utilized by HBERG members at the University of Alabama is their creation and use of a workbook to standardize each research project. Having an organized research process is vital to the importance of the information gathered and also to its presentation to the scientific community, which is dependent upon one’s ability to decipher the fieldwork. The workbook acts as a syllabus, providing a list of goals that need to be accomplished within a certain timeframe and provides instruction and references for the researcher as they come across new things in the field. These workbooks also provide a dynamic outline of what the research should look like without restraining the researcher’s own data collection process and acts as an “active document” that can be referred back to for any reason in the research process (2014). This sort of organization and preparedness is exactly what neuroanthropological methodology needs in order to properly and accurately begin in terms of research and data collection.
Lynn, C. D., Stein, M. J., & Bishop, A. P. (2014). Engaging Undergraduates through Neuroanthropological Research. Anthropology Now, 6(1), 92-103.