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Transforming Ethnographic Knowledge

Edited by Rebecca Hardin and Kamari Maxine Clarke

Publication Year: 2012

The ethnographic methods that anthropologists first developed to study other cultures—fieldwork, participant observation, dialogue—are now being adapted for a broad array of applications, such as business, conflict resolution and demobilization, wildlife conservation, education, and biomedicine. In Transforming Ethnographic Knowledge, anthropologists trace the changes they have seen in ethnography as a method and as an intellectual approach, and they offer examples of ethnography’s role in social change and its capacity to transform its practitioners.
    Senior scholars Mary Catherine Bateson, Sidney Mintz, and J. Lorand Matory look back at how thinking ethnographically shaped both their work and their lives, and George Marcus suggests that the methods for teaching and training anthropologists need rethinking and updating. The second part of the volume features anthropologists working in sectors where ethnography is finding or claiming new relevance: Kamari Maxine Clarke looks at ethnographers’ involvement (or non-involvement) in military conflict, Csilla Kalocsai employs ethnographic tools to understand the dynamics of corporate management, Rebecca Hardin and Melissa Remis take their own anthropological training into rainforests where wildlife conservation and research meet changing subsistence practices and gendered politics of social difference, and Marcia Inhorn shows how the interests in mobility and diasporic connection that characterize a new generation of ethnographic work also apply to medical technologies, as those mediate fertility and relate to social status in the Middle East.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

I developed an interest in anthropology because of the discipline’s broad applicability to my interests in medicine and cross-cultural health practices. Like Rebecca Hardin, whose entrée into anthropology was through development and environment, and Kamari Clarke, whose entrée was through traditional religious movements and legal anthropology, ...

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pp. xi-xiv

In a book such as this one there are so many influences to acknowledge that it is impossible to mention them all. For most of us, our mentors and teachers—those whose footprints have indelibly shaped the field of anthropology—are to be credited for the development of a discipline that grows increasingly crucial for today’s changing world. ...

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pp. 3-34

Few of us working in anthropology today conceive of our sites and themes of study as the “islands” and “tribes” that Geertz refers to above. Rather, we work in international courtrooms, in nature reserves, in hospitals, in corporate boardrooms, even in fields of military conflict. Whereas anthropologists were once more concerned with small-scale localized phenomena, ...

Part 1. Living and Teaching Ethnography

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Participant Observation as a Way of Living

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pp. 37-50

This talk was given to an interesting mixed group: students from various fields, including a number of anthropology majors; some faculty; and at least one family accompanied by their daughter who was considering coming to Yale. Although in its written form it is most likely to be read by anthropologists, ...

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Loveless in the Boondocks: Anthropology at Bay

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pp. 51-72

Though it is always possible to trump up a story retrospectively, I cannot confidently explain why I became an anthropologist. Now that I am at the end of my career, I think harder about how the choice was made when alternatives seemed to beckon. Thinking this way has obliged me to think as well about the profession I entered. ...

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The Contemporary Desire for Ethnography and Its Implication for Anthropology

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pp. 73-90

Thirty years ago, when I began my career, it was a fairly straightforward, unproblematic task to communicate to a public in Europe or the United States what social-cultural anthropology was as a discipline—even though there had been strong rumblings of change from the 1960s. ...

Part 2. Doing Transnational Ethnography

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The Homeward Ship: Analytic Tropes as Maps of and for African-Diaspora Cultural History

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pp. 93-112

I have been in love with Africa since I was five years old, partly owing to a book. Physically, all that is left of my Illustrated Book about Africa by Felix Sutton and H. B. Vestal (1959) is the front cover and the first thirty pages of text and vivid lithographs, along with the strips of masking tape with which my mother had, on multiple occasions, repaired it. ...

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Diasporic Dreaming: “Return Reproductive Tourism” to the Middle East

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pp. 113-134

In 1978, Louise Brown, the world’s first in vitro fertilization (IVF) baby, was born in England. In 1980, the first Islamic fatwa on medically assisted reproduction was written, allowing IVF to be undertaken by infertile married Muslim couples. In 1986, the first IVF clinics opened in three Middle Eastern Muslim countries, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. ...

Part 3. Ethnographies in Emerging Sectors

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Toward a Critically Engaged Ethnographic Practice

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pp. 137-159

The recent debates over the appropriateness of embedded American anthropologists serving U.S. military interests in Afghanistan and Iraq have raised some of the most controversial issues in American anthropological ethical circles today. Among Africanists, the most recent debates over the U.S. Army’s involvement in various outposts throughout Africa …

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Global Assemblages of Business Knowledge and Corporate Ethnography in Hungary’s New Economy

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pp. 160-180

In today’s economy, corporate professionals develop identities as transnational managers with entrepreneurial qualities not merely within the confines of the multinational companies where they work but also within a much wider network in which business knowledge circulates. ...

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Collaborative Conservation Science: An Anthropological Approach

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pp. 181-200

Over the last two decades, there have been calls to action and arguments against irreconcilable differences between anthropological subfields (see, for instance, Cartmill 1994). In practice, however, few contemporary physical anthropologists or ecologists have joined forces with ethnographers to create biocultural research programs. ...

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pp. 201-206

Initially offered as talks at Yale University, the essays included here were originally prompted (and, at times, challenged) by questions from students who were curious about ethnographic practices and faculty engaged in the development of a range of new field projects involving transnational, multisited, or new institutional projects. ...

Works Cited

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pp. 207-226

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pp. 227-230

Mary Catherine Bateson is a writer and cultural anthropologist who divides her time between New Hampshire and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she completed three years as a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has written and coauthored many books and articles, lectures across the country and abroad, ...


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pp. 231-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780299248734
E-ISBN-10: 0299248739
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299248741
Print-ISBN-10: 0299248747

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 1 table
Publication Year: 2012