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Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork

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Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Scholars have long recognized that ethnographic method is bound up with the construction of theory in ways that are difficult to teach. The reason, Allaine Cerwonka and Liisa H. Malkki argue, is that ethnographic theorization is essentially improvisatory in nature, conducted in real time and in necessarily unpredictable social situations. In a unique account of, and critical reflection on, the process of theoretical improvisation in ethnographic research, they demonstrate how both objects of analysis, and our ways of knowing and explaining them, are created and discovered in the give and take of real life, in all its unpredictability and immediacy.

Improvising Theory centers on the year-long correspondence between Cerwonka, then a graduate student in political science conducting research in Australia, and her anthropologist mentor, Malkki. Through regular e-mail exchanges, Malkki attempted to teach Cerwonka, then new to the discipline, the basic tools and subtle intuition needed for anthropological fieldwork. The result is a strikingly original dissection of the processual ethics and politics of method in ethnography.

Synopsis:

Scholars have long recognized that ethnographic method is bound up with the construction of theory in ways that are difficult to teach. The reason, Allaine Cerwonka and Liisa H. Malkki argue, is that ethnographic theorization is essentially improvisatory in nature, conducted in real time and in necessarily unpredictable social situations. In a unique account of, and critical reflection on, the process of theoretical improvisation in ethnographic research, they demonstrate how both objects of analysis, and our ways of knowing and explaining them, are created and discovered in the give and take of real life, in all its unpredictability and immediacy.

Improvising Theory centers on the year-long correspondence between Cerwonka, then a graduate student in political science conducting research in Australia, and her anthropologist mentor, Malkki. Through regular e-mail exchanges, Malkki attempted to teach Cerwonka, then new to the discipline, the basic tools and subtle intuition needed for anthropological fieldwork. The result is a strikingly original dissection of the processual ethics and politics of method in ethnography.

About the Author

Allaine Cerwonka is associate professor in and chair of the Gender Studies Department at Central European University, Budapest, and author of Native to the Nation: Disciplining Landscapes and Bodies in Australia. Liisa H. Malkki is associate professor of cultural anthropology at Stanford University and author of Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments                            

Nervous Conditions: The Stakes in Interdisciplinary Research          

Allaine Cerwonka

 
Fulbright Proposal                                                                
 
Fieldwork Correspondence                                                                    

Allaine Cerwonka

Liisa Malkki

 
Tradition and Improvisation in Ethnographic Field Research                

Liisa Malkki

 
References                                       

Index                                                   

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226100319
Author:
Cerwonka, Allaine
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Malkki, Liisa H.
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Ethnology
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Ethnologists
Subject:
Research
Subject:
Methodology
Subject:
Ethnology - Fieldwork - Australia -
Subject:
Cerwonka, Allaine
Subject:
Sociology-Reference and Methodology
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20070731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Field Work
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Reference and Methodology

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Product details 224 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226100319 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

Scholars have long recognized that ethnographic method is bound up with the construction of theory in ways that are difficult to teach. The reason, Allaine Cerwonka and Liisa H. Malkki argue, is that ethnographic theorization is essentially improvisatory in nature, conducted in real time and in necessarily unpredictable social situations. In a unique account of, and critical reflection on, the process of theoretical improvisation in ethnographic research, they demonstrate how both objects of analysis, and our ways of knowing and explaining them, are created and discovered in the give and take of real life, in all its unpredictability and immediacy.

Improvising Theory centers on the year-long correspondence between Cerwonka, then a graduate student in political science conducting research in Australia, and her anthropologist mentor, Malkki. Through regular e-mail exchanges, Malkki attempted to teach Cerwonka, then new to the discipline, the basic tools and subtle intuition needed for anthropological fieldwork. The result is a strikingly original dissection of the processual ethics and politics of method in ethnography.

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