Epistemology contra methodology: Theoretical oversights in the call towards practicality


  • Hayder Al-Mohammad




One of the distinguishing features of anthropology is its reliance on the ethnographic method of sustained, long-term fieldwork in a given ‘field’ or set of ‘fields’. This reliance on practical engagement along with the rise in the popularity of practice theory and embodiment as a paradigm of not only the acquisition and performance of knowledge but also as a founded mode of being in a world has resulted in discursive and epistemic deadlocks or limitations being translated into or as practical or methodological deadlocks. In this paper I want to highlight the theoretical oversights of reliance on practicality as a means of dealing with issues which in essence are epistemic and categorial but which are translated as methodological problems. After exemplifying these categorial misnomers I want to propose that what we as anthropologists encounter in many cases as insufficiencies in our understanding of certain topics cannot be overcome with more sophisticated and nuanced methods but rather we gain more by acknowledging such insufficiencies as constituting the type of knowledge we are trying to gain.

Author Biography

Hayder Al-Mohammad

Hayder Al-Mohammad is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kent. He can be contacted at ha74(AT)kent.ac.uk.