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

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

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