READING, WRITING, AND THEORIZING ETHNOGRPAHY

Spring 2007 16:070:532 Wed. 12:35-3:35pm RAB 305

Dr. Fran Mascia-Lees 313 Ruth Adams, Douglass Campus (732) 932-8757 fmascialees@anthropology.rutgers.edu Office Hours: Wed. 4-5pm

“We learn to write ethnographies by reading them” (Rose 1990). “What does the ethnographer do”? [S]he “writes” (Geertz 1973).

COURSE DESCRIPTION Ethnography—the sine qua non of cultural anthropology—has been under close, critical scrutiny since the last few decades of the 20th century. These critiques have given rise to a large and sophisticated literature that has probed the philosophical, political, epistemological, ethical, and rhetorical issues facing those who choose to study and “write culture.” This discussion has transformed the discipline in significant ways and has set the terms of debate for the understanding, analysis, and production of ethnography today. This course investigates this critical literature and its assumptions, assessing the implications of understanding ethnography as such things as rhetoric, genre, text, narrative, allegory, and “partial truth” and culture as a product of inscription. Emphasis is placed on understanding ethnographies as texts and on the enhancement of students’ skills in writing ethnography. Theoretical Focus Once largely understood as a transparent form of knowledge production resulting from the work of a participant-observer objectively describing a cultural reality, ethnography is often conceptualized today more as a story based on the represented, or evoked, experiences of a fieldworker-self in relationship to others within a given context (see Goodall 2000). In this conception, culture is not seen as external to the anthropologist but as that which is created at the very moment writing is performed, a conceptualization which has had wide-ranging consequences for the discipline. We will assess the implications of this understanding by addressing a range of theoretical and epistemological questions such as these: • What is the nature of ethnographic knowledge production and how are ethnographic texts authorized? How has this changed over time? • What were the conditions of possibility that enabled the “writing culture/feminist/postmodern” critique of anthropology? • What is the nature of the interpretive act and how does it operate in the description or creation of culture? • How have unrecognized assumptions and traditions of interpretation shaped anthropologists’ experience and understanding of culture? • What are the processes that inform the production and consumption of ethnographies? • What is the relationship of reading to writing in the generation of ethnography and how are interpretive communities formed? • What are the interrelationships among theory, fieldwork, and writing in the construction of ethnographic texts? • How do we develop paradigms through which experience becomes intelligible and writing strategies that enable ethnographers to communicate what might actually be ineffable? • What is the saliency of various forms of ethnographic representation for growing numbers of research projects in anthropology today?

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creative non-fiction. • providing assignments in which students model various forms of cultural representation. Wacquant. Class participation in discussions of the readings and in work-shopping is an important ingredient of your grade (I will discuss the details of work-shopping in class). You will be asked to write a one-page commentary on your revisions and final project. Stanford University Press. • comparison of ethnography to other forms of cultural representation such as travel writing.” one mid-course revision. critiquing and writing ethnography through the following: • the close reading and critical evaluation of a range of ethnographies. class time will be broken into two parts: first we will work-shop the writing you have done based on the previous week’s discussion. not on the writing itself. 2004. The Noonday Press. final project Reflective commentary on final project 10% 20% 10% 50% 10% *Since students will come to this course with highly variable experiences of writing. Wolf. COURSE REQUIREMENTS This seminar will be run as an intensive reading group and as a place for work-shopping your own writing. Margery. and fiction to bring ethnography as a genre into focus and to explore the possibilities these forms offer the ethnographer for “writing culture.Reading and Writing Focus This course emphasizes the development and enhancement of students’ skills in reading. All the other reading material is on-line at Sakai. 2 . Number our Days. Oxford University Press. we will discuss the readings for that day. Tsing. evaluating. 1992. You will be given two opportunities to revise a piece of writing and the final revision will count as your final writing project. and Ethnographic Responsibility. your experimental writing (and its revisions) will be graded only on your effort and dedication to improving it over the course of the semester. Meyerhoff. Princeton University Press. 1980. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. You will also be asked to be the main facilitator of the discussion of the readings twice during the semester. which also involves writing a reflection piece assessing the process which the revised piece has undergone. A Thrice Told Tale: Feminism. which you will present to the class. then in the second half of class. Let me know if the price is unreasonable for you and we’ll work something out. Postmodernism. A Space on the Side of the Road. 2004. Anne. Ana. 1997. detailing the choices you’ve made and drawing on the ideas developed throughout the course from our discussion of the readings. Kathleen. and in order to create a non-threatening atmosphere for sharing your writing. and a dissection of them as written texts. In the first two weeks each of you will be assigned one article. REQUIRED TEXTS Fadiman. Your final grade will be determined as follows: Participation in class discussions and work-shopping 2 Discussion facilitations 2 individual article synopsis/critique *6 writing “experiments. Touchstone. Body and Soul and Friction are only available in hard copy. Most of these books are available on-line from one of the big booksellers where you can get them used and therefore cheaper. partnered with one of your classmates. Loïc Body and Soul: Ethnographic Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer. Princeton University Press. 1996. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. • reading of some “nuts and bolts” pieces on style and form. which will provide the basis for your writing experiment for the following week. After the first two weeks. Stewart. • workshopping students’ writing to provide them with constructive feedback to use in the process of revising (and re-revising) their work. so I’ve opted to have you buy your own. Barbara.

(1989).edu/DivWeb/CultStudies/PUBS/Inscriptions/vol_5/clifford.” In Writing Culture. “Ethnographies as Texts. (1983).” Dialectical Anthropology 7:11-20. “Being There: Anthropology and the Scene of Writing” and “IWitnessing: Malinowski’s Children” both in Works and Lives. (1980). pp. Barbara Tedlock (1991). edited by James Clifford and George Marcus.ucsc. pp. pp. 68-76 (only these sections on Geertz are required). 27-50. Chapter 2. 198-221. Stephens. John VanMaanen. 11:25-69." Cultural Anthropology 6(3):306-322 (for a critical distinction between fieldwork.” Annual Review of Anthropology. Excerpts: 120-128. edited by James Clifford and George Marcus.” In Representing Ethnography. “Notes on Travel and Theory. “The Natives of the Trobriand Islands. (1961/1922). Make Me Reflexive . Authority and Authenticity Individual article synopsis/critique due Bronislaw Malinowski. “Fieldwork in Common Places in Writing Culture. (1986). pp. Nicholas Thomas. Vincent Crapanzano. (1988). 17 24 Introduction Classic Realist Ethnography: Authorship. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. James Clifford.” In Tales of the Field. edited by James Clifford and George Marcus. Eric Leeds “For a History of Travel” and “The Mind of the Modern Traveler” in The Mind of the Traveler: From Gilgamesh to Global Tourism. Ethnography and Narrative/Narrative Ethnography Individual article synopsis/critique due Barbara Myerhoff. excerpt from Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan. “On Ethnographic Authority” and “On Ethnographic Self-Fashioning: Conrad and Malinowski. (2000).” In The Interpretation of Cultures. (1986). (1986). Mary Louise Pratt. pp. (1982). H. Graham. 195-97. 31 Feb. (1995). Van Maanen.” Journal of Anthropological Research 43:29-41. George Marcus and Dick Cushman.” In Writing Culture. Number Our Days. “Narrative and Sociology. 7 14 3 . and writing ethnography).L.” Inscriptions 5 [available at: http://humwww. 51-54. “On Ethnographic Allegory. pp. The “New” Ethnography and Feminist Anthropology: Reflexivity and Voice Writing Workshop: Experimenting with Travel Writing Discussion Facilitator James Clifford. Ethnography by Comparison: Travel Writing and the Entry Narrative in Ethnography Writing Workshop: Experimenting with Narrative Ethnography Discussion Facilitator Daniel Defert. “Love at First Sight” in Baghdad without a Map. 1-24 and 73-101. “From Participant Observation to the Observation of Participation: The Emergence of Narrative Ethnography. Laurel Richardson. Tony Horwitz. James Clifford. 49-81. (1988). (1992). “Against Ethnography.html] John L.” In Argonauts of the Western Pacific. pp. (1972). ethnographic analysis. Goodall. “The Collection of the World: Accounts of Voyages from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries. 21-54 and 92-113. edited by J. pp. Watson. (1987). Clifford Geertz.” Both in The Predicament of Culture. (1982).COURSE OUTLINE Jan. 98-109 only. Clifford Geertz. “Realist Tales. 45-72.But Not Yet: Strategies for Managing Essential Reflexivity in Ethnographic Discourse. “Hermes’ Dilemma: The Making of Subversion in Ethnographic Description.” Journal of Anthropological Research 1(2):161-178.

Reflexivity.” and Dialogic Ethnography Work-shop revisions Discussion Facilitator Kathleen Stewart. 4 11 18 25 4 . 21 28 Writing Interlude: work on revising Experiential. (2002). (1992). (1996). Reading and Writing “Carnal” Ethnography: “The Taste and Ache of Action” Writing Workshop: Experimenting with Experiential. (1996). In Understanding Ethnographic Texts. In Writing the New Ethnography. (2003). and Character. Chapters 2 and “Commentary. edited by John Van Maanen. 81-106. (1992). Ruth Behar. “Grief and the Headhunter's Rage. Alec Wilkinson. Renato Rosaldo. pp. (1992). A Space on the Side of the Road.” pp. 131-151. (1999).” In A Thrice Told Tale. “Vulnerable. and Cultural Competence.” New Yorker (January 24. Ethnography by Comparison: Creative Non-Fiction as Ethnography Writing Workshop: Experimenting with “Carnal” Ethnography Discussion Facilitator Anne Fadiman.com/p/articles/mi_m2472/is_2_13/ai_90251911] Ethnography by Comparison: The Short Story as Ethnography Writing Workshop: Experimenting with Global Ethnography Discussion Facilitator Marjorie Wolf.):52-68. “A Changed Vision of God. pp.” In Interpreter of Maladies.  Jhumpa Lahiri.” or Dialogic Ethnography Discussion Facilitator Loïc Wacquant. “Transcription” pp. Michael Agar. Janelle Taylor. (1995). (1997).” In Representation in Ethnography.” In For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. 43-69. Reading and Writing Global Ethnography Writing Workshop: Experimenting with Creative Non-Fiction Discussion Facilitator Anna Tsing. Pp. “The Story Catches You and You Fall Down: Tragedy. In A Thrice Told Tale.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17(2):159-181. August. “Literary Journalism as Ethnography: Exploring the Excluded Middle.” pp. 1-21. Body and Soul: Ethnographic Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Ethnography.findarticles. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. “Beyond Malinowski and after Writing Culture: on the Future of Cultural Anthropology and the Predicament of Ethnography. 112-129. 22-29.H. Writing Interlude: work on revising Final Project/Reflective Commentary due Conclusion Mar. 1-33) and 6 (pp. 2002 [or available at http://www. “Vulnerable. One or two more short stories yet to be assigned. Paul Atkinson. “The Wig.L. Nathan Englander. Margery Wolf.” Australian Journal of Anthropology. Chapters 1 (pp. “Alternative. 37-45. George Marcus. pp. “Representing Ethnographic Experience: From Fieldwork to Fieldnotes to Stories. (1994).” pp. (2004). (2004). “Interpreter of Maladies. 161-177). The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology that Breaks Your Heart. Chapters 1 and 3 and commentary.” In Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. 7 21 28 Apr. (1989). 83-120 and “Voice. (2000). (1999). Goodall.