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Introduction

Ethnographies of Private Security

Erella Grassiani and Tessa Diphoorn

This introduction emphasizes the value of an anthropological lens within the research on private security. Although much scholarly work has been conducted on private security throughout the past decades, anthropological attention for this subject was somewhat delayed. Yet, the works that have emerged from this discipline through ethnographic fieldwork have provided new and different types of insights, namely bottom-up understandings that explore the daily practices and performances of security and the experiences of the security actors themselves, that other disciplines can unquestionably draw from. As the introductory piece of this section, it also familiarizes the four articles that constitute various “ethnographies of private security.”

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Internal Others

Ethnographies of Naturalism

Matei Candea and Lys Alcayna-Stevens

'Naturalism' is invoked with increasing frequency by anthropologists as a distinctively Western ontology which posits a shared unitary nature, upon which are overlain multiple 'cultures', 'perspectives', or 'worldviews'. But where, if at all, is this ontology to be found? Anthropologists working outside Europe and America have in various ways been urging colleagues to challenge 'our' naturalism in order to be able to take seriously alternative ethnographic realities. In the meantime, anthropologists and STS scholars who study European or American settings ethnographically have increasingly been arguing that 'we' were never (quite) naturalist to begin with. This double move shores 'naturalism' up as a conceptual object, but renders it ethnographically elusive, a perpetually receding horizon invoked in accounts of something else. This introduction explores this paradox and presents the subsequent articles' various experiments with what might seem an impossible task: the ethnography of naturalism itself.

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Gauging the Mood

Operationalizing Emotion through Ethnography

Brian Callan

This article illustrates a case study of an ethnographic research project in order to highlight the processes by which the project thesis emerged, the form of the knowledge on which it is based, and the relationship of that form of knowledge to other disciplines. The case-study is part of a larger ethnographic research project based in Jerusalem area between 2011 and 2012 on the sociality and affective processes involved in what is normally referred to as pro-Palestinian activism. Current anthropological concerns and debates are highlighted and discussed by following the ethnographic process from the development of a proposal based on a perceptual model of affect (Damasio, 2000), to ‘learning with people’ to the fieldwork phase (Ingold, 2008), to the analysis, interpretation of findings through the intersubjective faculty of judging (Arendt, 1968). Specifically, this work aims to clarify the form and validity of knowledge produced by an ethnographic engagement with phenomenological theory. Using an extract from field notes, from which I developed a thesis on role of weirdness in dissent, I highlight the intersubjective and emergent nature of knowledge production in ethnography through the development of trusting relationships with participants and the generative tensions and possibilities of being a researcher while also becoming an activist. In this process, the knowledge produced represents neither the participants’ nor the researcher’s understandings of the world but resides in what Arendt called a ‘third position’. Such a method of knowledge production should also be apposite to interdisciplinary exchanges within academia."

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Commentary

Intimacy through the Ethnographic Lens

Niko Besnier

The multiplicity of meanings that have been attributed to intimacy are both a weakness and a strength: a weakness because of the indeterminacy with which the category is used; a strength because it allows us to explore the relationship between its various meanings, and through this exploration address theoretically important questions. While it is commonly conflated with sexuality, intimacy concerns a considerably broader range of aspects of human life, which only an ethnographically founded approach can help us understand. Because of its indexical qualities, intimacy cannot be understood devoid of the context that gives it meaning.

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Introduction

Ethnographic engagements with global elites

Paul Robert Gilbert and Jessica Sklair

Anthropological interest in critical studies of class, system, and inequality has recently been revitalized. Most ethnographers have done this from “below,” while studies of financial, political, and other professional elites have tended to avoid the language of class, capital, and inequality. This themed section draws together ethnographies of family wealth transfers, philanthropy, and private sector development to reflect on the place of critique in the anthropology of elites. While disciplinary norms and ethics usually promote deferral to our research participants, the uncritical translation of these norms “upward” to studies of elites raises concerns. We argue for a critical approach that does not seek political purity or attempt to “get the goods” on elites, but that makes explicit the politics involved in doing ethnography with elites.

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Ethnographic Humanism

Migrant Experiences in the Quest for Well-Being

Anne Sigfrid Grønseth and Robin Oakley

The articles in this volume reinforce the power of ethnographic humanism, of anthropology in action. The focus is on the relationship between macro political forces and their influence on the varied experiences of health in advanced industrial capitalist contexts. Our approach views migrants as capable agents negotiating new lives for themselves and confronting the challenges they face. We strongly advocate socially informed policy that offers at minimum recognition to migrants as full fledged members of the new society that they have voluntarily or involuntarily migrated to.

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Animals, Plants, People, and Things

A Review of Multispecies Ethnography

Laura A. Ogden, Billy Hall and Kimiko Tanita

This article defines multispecies ethnography and links this scholarship to broader currents within academia, including in the biosciences, philosophy, political ecology, and animal welfare activism. The article is organized around a set of productive tensions identified in the review of the literature. It ends with a discussion of the “ethnographic” in multispecies ethnography, urging ethnographers to bring a “speculative wonder” to their mode of inquiry and writing.

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Pigs, Fish, and Birds

Toward Multispecies Ethnography in Melanesia

Katharina Schneider

This article reviews two strengths of Melanesian anthropology that could make a significant contribution to anthropological research on human-animal relations, specifically to multispecies ethnography. The first strength is an analytical approach to comparative research on gender developed in response to challenges from feminist theory in the 1980s; the second is a wealth of ethnographic detail on human-animal relations, much of it contained in texts not explicitly concerned with them and thus largely inaccessible to nonspecialist readers. The article sets up an analogy between the challenges faced by feminist anthropologists and those currently faced by multispecies ethnographers. It demonstrates how pursuing the analogy allows multispecies ethnographers to draw together analytically, and to reinvestigate a broad range of ethnographic resources containing details on human-animal relations, whose convergence so far remains hidden by divergent theoretical interests.

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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.

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Lisen Dellenborg and Margret Lepp

This article describes the development of ethnographic drama in an action research project involving healthcare professionals in a Swedish medical ward. Ethnographic drama is the result of collaboration between anthropology and drama. As a method, it is suited to illuminating, addressing and studying professional relationships and organisational cultures. It can help healthcare professionals cope with inter-professional conflicts, which have been shown to have serious implications for individual well-being, organisational culture, quality of care and patient safety. Ethnographic drama emerges out of participants’ own experiences and offers them a chance to learn about the unspoken and embodied aspects of their working situation. In the project, ethnographic drama gave participants insight into the impact that structures might have on their actions in everyday encounters on the ward.