07:20 PM to 10:00 PM W
Innovation Hall 211
Section Information for Fall 2019
Ethnography—literally, ‘writing about (a) people (or culture)’—is a powerful method for examining social practices in specific settings. And because it asks after what people actually do and think (as opposed to what they would do or think if they acted according to an abstract theoretical paradigm), it also provides a means for both testing and developing theories of culture. Long associated with cultural anthropology (and qualitative sociology), ethnographic methods are taken up today by cultural studies practitioners in many fields (including English, folklore, history, etc.).
This course will survey classical and contemporary ethnographies, laying out the basic methodology of participant-observation fieldwork while asking key questions about the ethnographic product and how the technique has changed over a hundred years. How have ethnographic techniques served contradictory aims: colonial snooping or spying on the one side and liberationist aspirations on the other? What procedures might distinguish critical ethnographic practices from their power-serving alternatives? How do successful ethnographies connect the ‘micro’ setting to the ‘macro’ system? Lastly, how have critical ethnographies grappled with varied forms of social inequality (gender, sexuality, race, class) and what insights have they gleaned from people’s everyday practices?
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Enrollment is limited to Graduate level students.