ANTH 265 Contemporary Activist Ethnographies

How do anthropologists transform field-based experiences into ethnographic writing? This course explores the narrative, descriptive, and interpretive conventions of ethnography, with a strong focus on the practice of student writing. Tacking back and forth between reading and writing assignments, we will explore how research experiences are transformed as they are written down—before, during, and after fieldwork. The first half of the course is devoted to the craft and mechanics of ethnographic writing. Each week, we will explore a key theme (person, place, voice, story-telling, self), by discussing both that week’s readings (in the first half of class), and our own writing (in the second half of class). The readings are intended to a) exemplify great ethnographic writing, both classic and experimental, b) explicitly reflect on some aspect of the craft, and c) introduce wider disciplinary debates on the ethics and politics of ethnography. The weekly writing exercises will help you to link our class readings with experiences outside of class. You may either use these writing exercises to develop and reflect on an ongoing writing project (e.g., a thesis), or choose a fresh topic to write on each week. In the second half of the class, we will expand our framework to consider how anthropologists situate ethnographic work within wider conversations, both scholarly and public. We will sample acclaimed (and/or notorious) recent ethnographies, and familiarize ourselves with the debates and controversies surrounding them. During these final weeks, in lieu of writing exercises, each student will present on the readings.




ANTH 235 or instructor's permission

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