Ethnography in Today's World
Color Full Before Color Blind
Publication Year: 2013
In Ethnography in Today's World, Roger Sanjek examines the genre and practice of ethnography from a historical perspective, from its nineteenth-century beginnings and early twentieth-century consolidation, through political reorientations during the 1960s and the impact of feminism and postmodernism in later decades, to its current outlook in an increasingly urban world. Drawing on a career of ethnographic research across Brazil, Ghana, New York City, and with the Gray Panthers, Sanjek probes politics and rituals in multiethnic New York, the dynamics of activist meetings, human migration through the ages, and shifting conceptions of race in the United States. He interrogates well-known works from Boas, Whyte, Fabian, Geertz, Marcus, and Clifford, as well as less celebrated researchers, addressing methodological concerns from ethnographers' reliance on assistants in the formative days of the discipline to contemporary comparative issues and fieldwork and writing strategies.
Ethnography in Today's World contributes to our understanding of culture and society in an age of globalization. These provocative examinations of the value of ethnographic research challenge conventional views as to how ethnographic fieldwork is and can be conceived, conducted, contextualized, and communicated to academic audiences and the twenty-first-century public.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Series: Haney Foundation Series
Title Page, Copyright Page
This book might have been titled For Ethnography! or, alternatively, Ethnog-raphy for What? Throughout, it aims to affirm the value of ethnography inengaging contemporary issues of race, migration, political activism, andan urbanizing globe. It includes as well essays examining this distinctiveanthropological fieldwork method?ethnography, or participant observa-...
PART I. ENGAGING ETHNOGRAPHY
1. Color Full Before Color Blind: The Emergence of Multiracial Neighborhood Politics in Queens, New York City
The United States is in the midst of a great transition. Within a few decades,Americans of African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry will outnumberthose of European origin. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau projec-tion, by 2042, the proportion of whites will fall from its present 65 percentto 50 percent, and by 2050, the country?s population will be 46 percent...
2. The Organization of Festivals and Ceremonies Among Americans and Immigrants in Queens
On a Friday night in March 1990, I attended an awards ceremony and buffetdinner sponsored by the Coalition of United Residents for a Safer Commu-nity at the Knights of Columbus hall in Elmhurst, Queens. I was invited bythe coalition?s organizer, Lucy Schilero, an Italian American woman in herthirties who had lived most of her life in a house in Elmhurst, just one block...
3. What Ethnographies Leave Out
In 1927 Margaret Mead prepared to write her second book on Samoa, SocialOrganization of Manu?a (published in 1930). Having completed Coming ofAge in Samoa (scheduled to appear in 1928), which aimed at a popular audi-ence, she now wanted to write a ??monograph?? to establish her place among??scholars.?? Before beginning, she read a handful of what we now call ??classic??...
PART II. ETHNOGRAPHY, PAST AND PRESENT
The word ??ethnography?? has a double meaning in anthropology: ethno-graphy as product (ethnographic writings?the books and articles writtenby anthropologists) and ethnography as process (participant observation orfieldwork). The product depends upon the process but not in any simpleAVB relationship. In constructing ethnographies, anthropologists do more...
5. Anthropology’s Hidden Colonialism: Assistants and Their Ethnographers
This chapter concerns hidden issues of scholarly history, the interpersonalcontext of fieldwork, and intellectual colonialism in the study of ??othercultures.?? For more than a hundred years, members of the communitiesand cultures studied by anthropologists have been major providers of infor-mation, translation, fieldnotes, and fieldwork. Although professional eth-...
6. The Ethnographic Present
I intend this chapter?s title, ??The Ethnographic Present,?? to be ambiguous,to apply to more than may be obvious. I wish to approach its topic fromfour connecting angles, considering (1) the ethnographic present as thepresent state of ethnography; (2) the ethnographic present as a mode ofpresenting ethnography; (3) the ethnographic present as the ethnographer?s...
PART III. COMPARISON AND CONTEXTUALIZATION
7. Worth Holding Onto: The Participatory Discrepancies of Political Activism
Over the course of four decades I have attended hundreds of political meet-ings. Among them have been meetings of the Dzodze Social and CulturalUnion (DSCU), an Ewe hometown association in Accra, Ghana; meetingsof Gray Panther networks in Berkeley, California and New York City; andmeetings of Community Board 4, its district cabinet, and block, civic, ten-...
8. Intermarriage and the Future of Races in America
Through four centuries, white and black Americans have lived together andapart?in closer propinquity through the first twenty-five decades, duringwhich slavery existed, than in the fifteen decades since. Across these years,the power of race has been expressed and mediated through sex. Forceddisruption of black conjugal ties and kinship networks, white-on-black...
9. Rethinking Migration, Ancient to Future
Rising tides in the movement of information, commodities, and peoplecharacterize the contemporary world, and anthropologists of the presenthave been vigorous in charting these proliferating forms of transnationalcirculation.1 Taking a global view, Arjun Appadurai discerns ??a general rup-ture in the tenor of intersocietal relations?? marking ??the extended present??...
PART IV. ETHNOGRAPHY AND SOCIETY
10. Politics, Theory, and the Nature of Cultural Things
Since anthropology?s ??postmodern turn?? in the 1980s, we have understoodthat ethnography is autobiographical.1 In the sense that writing ethnogra-phy depends upon recalling and recounting one?s presence in fieldworkevents, with the help of fieldnotes and records, this is certainly true. Yetthis is a relatively trivial point, I believe, compared to the substantive and...
11. Keeping Ethnography Alive in an Urbanizing World
My initial attraction to ethnography was romantic. The first book I read inmy first cultural anthropology course in 1964 was Bronislaw Malinowski?sArgonauts of the Western Pacific (1922). I was hooked. I realized I couldtravel via ethnographies to places I would never go, and before my under-graduate years were out, I had encountered A Chinese Village (1945), A...
12. Going Public: Responsibilities and Strategies in the Aftermath of Ethnography
Engaging the public sphere is central to contemporary anthropology?sagenda.1 Exhortations to do so are plentiful. Individual examples are readilyidentifiable. Yet analyses of how public engagement actually works are few.How may we disaggregate ??the public sphere?? into the actual pathways ofaudiences, sites, media, and roles that anthropologists encounter and navi-...
Gerontologists distinguish cohort effects on historically specific genera-tions?in my case, I am part of a cohort that entered anthropology andadulthood in the 1960s.1 They also identify life-cycle influences?for me,notably, fieldwork in Brazil when I was nineteen, Ghana in my middle andlate twenties, Gray Panther experiences in my early thirties to early forties,...