Contemporary Ethnographic Practice and the Value of Serendipity

Authors: Rivoal, Isabelle, and Noel B. Salazar (2013)
In: Social Anthropology 21, no. 2 (2013): 178-85

Ethnographic practice developed within anthropology as a fieldwork method and methodology that values uncertainty and the necessary reflexivity this triggers. In order to give this epistemological challenge a chance, ethnographers were allowed sufficient time to soak in 'Otherness'. Time was deemed indispensable to cope with the ambiguity of what exactly to look for while 'being there', in the field. Long periods of waiting were seen as a precondition for creativity and serendipity. But how to guarantee these unpredictable scientific values while various authorities and media demand from anthropologists, like from other scholars in the social sciences, to shed light on what is going on immediately. External contingencies that stress the quantitative aspects of research output often prevent anthropologists from indulging in 'slow science'. Instead, they have to write and publish quickly to keep their ethnographic account relevant before it becomes obsolete, hereby blurring the line between the anthropological quest and journalistic accounts. How do up-and-coming anthropologists think of the 'good old' long-term fieldwork? What do they consider to be the most ideal forms of ethnographic practice to address present-day research challenges and realities? Which characteristics of anthropological knowledge gathering do they find most essential? What is their ethnographic agenda for the future?

Consider the Audience

Author: Jen Rajchel
In: Dougherty, Jack & O'Donnell, Tennyson.
Read: https://epress.trincoll.edu/webwriting/chapter/rajchel/

At one level, web writing is about writing on the web: the flexibility as a multimodal piece, the ability to nimbly circulate, and the capacity to create a network of texts. At another level, the practice is about writing for the web and situating ourselves as readers and writers within its evolving architecture.

Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning

Author: Ann Arbor (2015)
In: Project MUSE. University of Michigan Press, 2015.
Read: https://muse.jhu.edu/book/52297

The essays in Web Writing respond to contemporary debates over the proper role of the Internet in higher education, steering a middle course between polarized attitudes that often dominate the conversation. The authors argue for the wise integration of web tools into what the liberal arts does best: writing across the curriculum. All academic disciplines value clear and compelling prose, whether that prose comes in the shape of a persuasive essay, scientific report, or creative expression. The act of writing visually demonstrates how we think in original and critical ways and in ways that are deeper than those that can be taught or assessed by a computer. Furthermore, learning to write well requires engaged readers who encourage and challenge us to revise our muddled first drafts and craft more distinctive and informed points of view. Indeed, a new generation of web-based tools for authoring, annotating, editing, and publishing can dramatically enrich the writing process, but doing so requires liberal arts educators to rethink why and how we teach this skill, and to question those who blindly call for embracing or rejecting technology.

Essential Ethnographic methods: A mixed methods approach

Authors: Jean J. Schensul & Margaret D. LeCompte
Altamira Press, 2013
Read: https://books.google.nl/books/about/Essential_Ethnographic_Methods.html?id=5ndh7PpBMhwC&redir_esc=y

Essential Ethnographic Methods introduces the fundamental, face-to-face data collection tools that ethnographers and other qualitative researchers use on a regular basis. It provides ethnographers with tools to answer the principal ethnographic questions about setting, participants, activities, behavior, and more. The essential “mixed” methods for collecting data include open-ended and focused listening, questioning strategies, participant and non-participant observation, recording techniques, visual recall, mapping the environments and contexts in which participant behavior occurs, and engaging in ethnographically informed survey research. Because these data collection strategies require ethnographers to become involved in the local cultural setting and to acquire their experience through hands-on experience, the essential tools also allow them to learn about new situations from the perspective of an "insider.” With these detailed instructions, the quality and scope of the data ethnographers collect are sure to be improved.