Anthropologists have discussed "the comparative method" since the origins of the discipline in the nineteenth century. Most contemporary scholars agree that comparison is, in principle, a good thing; but they tend to differ considerably as to what exactly it should mean, and how it should be achieved. At one extreme are models which seek to compare whole societies as if they were self-contained units, in the manner of a natural science. At the other are those (post)modern authors who insist that an element of comparison with one's own society is necessarily built in to every ethnographic account of an "other". In between these extremes there is much scope to discuss the optimum levels selected in comparative analyses and the boundaries of the unit or institution to be compared. There is no single "authorized" model in the work of our group, but everyone is encouraged to think comparatively - both in his/ her individual project, and in collaboration with colleagues. The materials presented here give examples of how we are proceeding.
Siberia Project Group