This Book and Other Books

in Navigators of the Contemporary

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226887517
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226887531 | DOI:
This Book and Other Books

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  • Theory and Practice of Anthropology


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This chapter first explains why the author of this book chose the ethnographic conversation—as opposed to the artifact, or the scene of encounter, or critical reconceptualization (“concept work”), or something else—as the heart of ethnography. It then considers whether theorizing the practice of ethnography, in conversational terms or otherwise, is a good idea at all, suggesting that the theoretical representation of ethnography is particularly important at the present time. Cultural anthropology is still widely seen in traditional terms, as a representation of the primitive, the exotic, the other. Although such representation remains useful today, it does not take advantage of the essentially contemporary and internal accounts of present situations that ethnography is beginning to accomplish. Ethnographic accounts of their own world (rather than the alternative worlds represented by the other) could be very useful for these traditional audiences for anthropology, albeit useful in nontraditional ways, and theory could be used to introduce them to what contemporary anthropology offers.

Keywords: ethnography; ethnographic conversation; ethnographic research; anthropology

Chapter.  3934 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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