Introduction: A gendered, critical ethnography of elites This article answers the call of this theme section—for an anthropology of elites that is both ethnographic and attuned to political economic critique—by looking ethnographically at the
Women, inequality, and social reproduction
The Investigation of Refugees’ Mental Distress
This article analyses the challenges posed by carrying out ethnography with migrants experiencing mental distress and living in conditions of multiple marginality (social and existential). Drawing on the notion of crisis, I consider the experience of disorder as an ethnographic object reflecting the intersection between the individual and the collective. This article examines how ethnographic practice can be applied to, and is altered by, the study of these experiences, asking: How are we, especially as first-time fieldworkers, affected by unsettling encounters? How do we react and respond to the crises of others? What use can we make of our own experiences of crises by developing new ways of practising fieldwork?
Whither an Interdisciplinary Role?
Susan A. Crate
Using longitudinal ethnographic material, anthropologists are skilled to discern how change, in its many forms, interacts with the livelihoods of affected communities. Furthermore, multi-sited ethnography can show how local change is both a result of global to local phenomena and of origins affecting similar local contexts. Ethnographic material is therefore critical to interdisciplinary understandings of change. Through case study in native villages in north-eastern Siberia, Russia, this article argues for ethnography's unique capacity to understand change. In addition, it argues for ethnography's much-needed contribution in interdisciplinary efforts to account for attributes of global change both highly local and human.
Intimacy, Violence, and Fieldwork Relations in South Africa
It is conventional to point out the disintegrative and dysfunctional effects of violence and relegate it to processes outside the social realm. Yet this study argues that a reflexive approach to ethnography can reveal the integrative potential of violence. It examines the theoretical importance of the ethnographer's anxieties about (a) violence, (b) the precarious dependencies during fieldwork in a violent setting, and (c) concerns about representing violence in academic work. Such a reflexive approach shows why these anxieties can both conceal and reveal the sociality of violence. The study draws on personal fieldwork experiences to show how violence became central to the relationships the author developed with his assistants during research in South Africa.
The Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London
George Orwell is most widely known as the teller of dystopian tales of oppression. A closer look at his oeuvre reveals a courageous truth seeker who frequently lived and worked with his literary subjects. In his fieldwork he used the methods of classic ethnography including participant observation, semi-structured interviews and field notes. This article argues that Orwell was an ethnographer in his research methods and that both Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier are ethnographic texts with valuable insights into marginal groups in the early to mid-twentieth century in Europe. The writer’s clear-sighted and humane depiction of ‘otherness’ shows his skill as an ethnographer. His personal investment with his subject matter, reflexivity and attention to broader social and political phenomena in his narratives mark Orwell as an autoethnographer.
Abigail Baim-Lance and Cecilia Vindrola-Padros
Academic funding bodies are increasingly measuring research impact using accountability and reward assessments. Scholars have argued that frameworks attempting to measure the use-value of knowledge production could end up influencing the selection of research topics, limiting research agendas, and privileging linear over complex research designs. Our article responds to these concerns by calling upon insights from anthropology to reconceptualise impact. We argue that, to conduct socially beneficial studies, impact needs to be turned from a product to an inclusive process of engagement. Anthropology's epistemologically and methodologically rich tradition of ethnography offers a particularly apposite set of tools to achieve this goal. We present three concrete examples of how we have used ethnography to impact on the work we carry out, particularly in shaping multidisciplinary team-based research approaches.
Perspectives on U.K. and Mexican Participatory Artists' Processes for Catalysing Change, and Facilitating Health and Flourishing
This article reports new ethnographic research exploring community-based, participatory arts practice in Northern England and Mexico City. Noting the value of an ethnographic approach, the study investigated whether commonalities discovered in practitioners' approaches are significant enough to constitute a generalisable participatory arts methodology, transcending significant contextual differences, and recognisable across national boundaries.
Shared characteristics emerged in practitioners' modes of engagement with groups, and strategies for catalysing change; clear convergences from which a core methodology in community-based participatory arts for change is distilled. It suggests the opening of liminal spaces in which participants can reflect, rehearsing fresh ways of engaging in transformative dialogues in relation to the world in which they live. This article presents the study findings as a grounded characterisation of 'participatory arts practice': a complex but potentially powerful mechanism, in use within numerous community health projects, and evident in diverse settings, despite little or no exchange of ideas between practitioners.
Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity
, nothing to do. This claim to be “doing nothing” cuts against an ethnographic sensibility. As the craft of participant observation has shown time and again, people cannot help but be engaged in doing something. Sitting, pacing, or staring at a parking lot
Disentangling Provenance, Provenience, and Context in Vanuatu Assemblages
James L. Flexner
labelled “ethnography” or “ethnology” are equally a valuable source of information for understanding the past (e.g., Byrne et al. 2011 ; Harrison et al. 2013 ). Below I use the more contemporary term “ethnography” to refer to such collections, though both
Regina F. Bendix
crisis, figuratively in many other realms. They require interdisciplinary cooperation which in turn necessitates a cooling of disciplinary excess. Anthropology's ethnographic disposition, I suggest, makes for good equipment to foster and sustain