I started this blog about eight months ago as a way to think through some of the methodological issues surrounding the theory and practice of doing ethnography. In some ways, it was an attempt to understand why so much writing in anthropology has become so jargon-filled in the last thirty years. More specifically, why is it that “smart” books have to be written in a certain style that makes them inaccessible to most people without graduate training in anthropology or cultural studies? Early on, I was reviewing various articles and books and discussing other theoretical issues, but soon found myself overwhelmed by my own writing projects.
Recently, I had some time to go back to those original posts. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now see that I assumed that most of the people reading this blog would already know about the ins and outs of doing ethnographic research: finding a project, getting the IRB approval, writing the grants to do the fieldwork, collecting the data, writing the fieldnotes, coding the fieldnotes, synthesizing the findings, writing more grants to fund the writing, etc. My primary concern was only with the final writing process.
I now realize that perhaps I need to go back to the beginning of the process and talk about all of the steps that need to happen before any of the literary writing can begin. In the next series of posts, I hope to shed some light on the work of the ethnographer and all of the labor that must be done before the first sentence of the dissertation, thesis, or book can be written.