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Training for undertaking materially focused ethnographic research in contemporary societies, sometimes called "ethnoarchaeology," is provided by Michael Dietler through courses in the Anthropology Department. Such research is conducted in many contexts, from American suburbia to rural Africa. The goal is to employ a rigorous methodology in examining the material world of social life, something that has, unfortunately, been lacking in much of the recent work on material culture conducted by ethnographers as social anthropology has belatedly rediscovered the importance of the material. This is a field that was originally developed to help archaeologists improve the theoretical understanding of material culture, but has also become of major significance for ethnographers.

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