Women’s Voices: Their Critique of the Anthropology of Japan
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 19: 17-37 (Volume publication date October 1990)
Mariko Asano Tamanoi
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

During law school, we law students were regularly encouraged to “think like lawyers,” and I feel I know what that is and what it means.  At this point in my anthropology readings I’m starting to wonder what it would mean to “think like an anthropologist.”  How would an anthropologist view a scene differently than, say, a sociologist or psychologist; there’s so much overlap with and borrowing from those two fields.  I’m not completely clueless, but I have no where near the grasp that I do with regard to lawyering.  I think this question comes to me more strongly given that the regional studies concern themselves more than others with discussions of “what” and “how” anthropologists study.

In her discussion of “Women and Family” Tamanoi contrasts sociological studies with anthropological ones.  I wondered whether her conclusions were part of a broader commentary on how anthropology differs from sociology or whether they were more specific to the groups of studies discussed.  Are there clues to how to think like an anthropologists?  She writes that while both emphasized the power of Japanese women (particularly in the domestic sphere), anthropologists paid closer attention to the way women spoke and how they spoke about being female:  ”And since ethnographers pay specific attention to the very language these women speak, the informants’ voices emerge more clearly:  They are not spoken for, they speak.”  She notes that the sociological studies consisted primarily of studies by American female sociologists who conducted fieldwork among urban middle-class housewives; the anthropologists had a broader range of informants.

Is Tamanoi saying that anthropologists are less ethnocentric than sociologists?  Is she saying that anthropologists are more likely than sociologists to use methods that mitigate ethnocentricism?