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[Xmca-l] Re: Fwd: [Sed-l] "Should anthropology break up with ethnography?"

That's funny, I didn't know that Anthropology and Ethnography were a
couple! I thought I saw that Anthropology's facebook page lists its
relationship to ethnography as: "It's complicated."

(seems like sometimes in the 80's when it changed to this from its former
Status: O

But seriously, I get both sides of the argument here (and it is worth
looking at the free pdf of Ingold's essay:

I think what Ingold is trying to do is, on the one hand, to shave off the
bad parts of what anthropologists have been doing in the past and to throw
it into the conceptual bin of "ethnography" (or maybe "merely descriptive
ethnography"). On the other hand, he is taking all the good bits of what
anthropology could be and throwing it into the conceptual bin called
"participant observation." Ingold's move is really more of a disciplinary
shamanic move than it is necessarily an intellectual move (although these
aren't much different!). It is an attempt to do a kind of conceptual
cleansing, a rite of purification in which one seeks toeliminate the
profane (e.g., all the stuff that Writing Cultures and Fabian and others
have brought up about the terrors of ethnography, schizotemprality,
othering, silencing subalterns, and so on) while at the same time seizing
upon the sacred (i.e., the real possibilites that participant observation
holds, particularly cultivating the practice of empathy). This is necessary
because anthropology must adapt to changing understandings of what is
constituted as profane or sacred. Simply put, this is an attempt at ritual

That said, I think Cook has an interesting point here in as much as she
points to something that is missing, or at least not well articulated in
Ingold's essay, namely, What/how does one write-up what one has
participatingly observed? Ingold's essay only gives clues, "correspondence"
rather than "description" seems to be the main axis that he introduces as a
general guidepost to writing. But, of course, I'm not sure what he would
have in mind as a write-up of participant observation that involves
"correspondence" (perhaps something like Luke Eric Lassiter's collaborative

But in the end, it seems, Ingold isn't necessarily wanting to throw out the
ethnographic baby with the schizotemporal (etc.) bathwater. Instead it
seems he is actually looking for a more substantial relationship between
ethnography and theory (and to respond to Cook's critique: doesn't Liebow's
Tally's Corner do this? Or is Liebow's ethnography merely descriptive
particularism? That's an interesting question). Here, Ingold's argument
slips into a much simpler argument: ethnography as descriptive
particularism will not do. Instead, ethnography needs theory (e.g., he
proposes that the parabola of theory and the parabola of ethnography be put
face to face with each other so that they overlap and that the overlap is
anthropology). Or to put this relationship a bit more simply: it's


On Fri, May 13, 2016 at 11:18 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> The discussion in the blog post below ought to be relevant to all those on
> the list who use qualitative
> methods they identify as ethnographic in their work.
> mike
> Provocatively posted on the Cultural Anthropology journal Facebook page
> this morning with the heading "Should anthropology break up with
> ethnography?" a letter responding to a recent Tim Ingold piece.
> http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/874-ethnography-translation
> --
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
> that creates history. Ernst Boesch

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602