01 December 2016

Ethno everywhere! Workshop

The American Anthropology Association's Annual Meeting hosted a workshop on November 16th about Ethnographic Writing. In this workshop, Ruth Behar from the University of Michigan and Marcia Ochoa Univ of California Santa Cruz discussed their tips and tricks for crafting an ethnographic scene, writing this form of data into one's work, and solving such problems as how to harmonize the voices of your interlocuters and weave theory into these stories.

One very useful outcome (as there were many) of this workshop was a list of ethnographies used to teach others (and learn more) about the various possibilities for ethnographic writing. Below is a(n incomplete) list of ethnographies and suggestions as to their unique approach to this writing genre.
  • Ruth Benedict's (1936) Patterns of Culture  –  Classic ethnographic text that weaves in poetic prose (written as under the pseudonym Anne Singleton)
  • Zora Neale Hurston's (1935) Mules and Men  – Uses conversational style writing to describe the context, setting and relationship with her interlocuters.
  • James Agee's (1941) Let Us Now Praise Famous Men –  A literary journalist who comes across as ethnographic in the amount of detail he gave
  • Claude Levi-Strauss' (1961) Tristes Tropiques ­– Levi-Strauss' use of irony
  • John Langston Gwaltney's (1980) Drylongso: A Self-Portrait of Black America – Black American anthropologist (who was also blind) introduced each person he met with as an epigraph to introduce a chapter or scene
  • Kevin Dwyer's (1982) Moroccan Dialogues: Anthropology in Question – includes dialogue (like Zora Neale Hurston) in the text
  • Svetlana Alexievich's (1997) Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster – the manner in which she formats her ethnographies keeps the poetics of her interlocutors. 
  • Renato Rosaldo's (2013) The Day of Shelly’s Death: The poetry and ethnography of grief  – "Anthro-poetry"