Category: ethnography

Book Review: Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing edited by Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean

In Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing, editors Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean offer a collection that seeks to open up the possibilities for ethnographic research by approaching writing as a “material adventure”. As the volume grapples with longstanding questions regarding the ethical challenges of capturing one’s subjects in language, Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani nonetheless finds this a moving reminder of the power of words to enable entry into […]

Policymaking must become more empathetic rather than continuing its current overreliance on economic measures

In many cases policymaking is conducted without engaging with the public. It is economic measures, rather than any official public consultation, that inform monetary policy, for example. But does this contribute to the perception of policymakers as “out of touch”? Emmanuel Lee argues that policymaking must become more empathetic, with aggregate economic measures often failing to accurately reflect the wellbeing […]

Book Review: Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise by Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox

In Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise, Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox not only show why roads matter, but also attend to the material processes that bring roads into being through two South American case studies. Luke Heslop praises this book for showing how attention to the complexities of infrastructure projects sheds new light on the parameters of ‘the […]

Book Review: Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, Embodied and Everyday

Ethnographers of contemporary Internet-infused societies consequently find themselves facing serious methodological dilemmas: where should they go, what should they do there and how can they acquire robust knowledge about what people do in, through and with the internet? Casey Brienza thinks Ethnography for the Internet is both a challenging and magisterial book by a scholar working at the fullest extent of her […]

Research is Magic: An Interview with Ethnographers Jason Nguyen & Kurt Baer

The following is a guest post from Julia Fernandez, this year’s NDIIPP Junior Fellow. Julia has a background in American studies and working with folklife institutions and worked on a range of projects leading up to CurateCamp Digital Culture in July. This is part of a series of interviews Julia conducted to better understand the […]

Book Review: Communities of Complicity: Everyday Ethics in Rural China by Hans Steinmüller

Everyday life in contemporary rural China is characterized by an increased sense of moral challenge and uncertainty, in which ordinary people often find themselves caught between the moral frameworks of capitalism, Maoism, and the Chinese tradition. Hans Steinmüller’s ethnographic study of the village of Zhongba, in Hubei Province, central China, is an attempt to grasp the ethical reflexivity of everyday life in […]

How much data do you need? Like documentary film-making, research requires far greater coverage than the final cut.

It can be difficult to determine how much data is required for research analysis. Kerim Friedman compares the process to documentary film-making where they typically shoot sixty times the amount that makes the final cut. The concept of a “shooting ratio” underlines the necessity of collecting a lot of data in order to find that one choice nugget upon which hinges the analysis. But collecting […]

Book Review: Oral History off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice by Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki

Most discussions of oral history method are rooted in abstract ideas about what interviewing should be and should achieve. However, interviews are ultimately personal interactions between human beings, and rarely conform to a methodological ideal. The struggles interviewers face while … Continue reading