Book: Transforming Ethnographic Knowledge

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Transforming Ethnographic Knowledge

Edited by Kamari Maxine Clarke, professor of anthropology, and Rebecca Hardin

(University of Wisconsin Press)

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.

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.