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

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

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