When the student of a social or historical phenomenon belongs to the culture in which it occurs or occurred, the choice of position is determined by the necessity to take a stand: one is either for it or against or tries to be indifferent.
However, even if the student does not belong to the culture that is being studied, the analysis will still bring to it value judgments that are accepted in the student ’ s own culture.
The demand for detachment in such studies, often encountered in the literature, is in any case unsound. It expects of the scholars a split personality which would remove all personal perspective and engagement from their activities as students.
This could only result in dull and mechanical and therefore meaningless analysis.
In fact, it does not exist in practice. What exists, however, is a pretense at objectivity by students who often ignore the fact that their views are wholly determined and thus distorted by current consensus. Such were my considerations when I published a book about Roman frontier policy and imperialism in the East in 1990. It seemed to me only fair to say something about my personal perspective in thinking about the problems at hand. I thought a candid admission that I was intellectually and emotionally involved in the subject of my studies would show that I was aware of my limitations and tried to use my personal experience to advantage in my ruminations.
I must admit that I found it surprising when a few critics, encouraged by this admission, used it against me and accused me of openly acknowledged bias in my views. It seemed to me then, and seems to me true today, that authors who are aware of their perspective have a better chance of delivering lucid analysis, than those who pretend that their experience in life plays no role in their work.
Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (52 pages available here)
Absolutely this. My Anthropology prof hammered this point home to us. All of us have biases; it is better to be aware of our biases so we can watch for them in our work than to pretend they don’t exist. Try as we might, everything we research, read, watch, or otherwise consume passes through the lens of our own experience.
See Alison Wylie’s work on Standpoint Theory.