Ethnography & epistemic hierarchies
Workshop, May 25–26, 2023, Erfurt University
This workshop is an invitation to reflect on the ambivalent roles that ethnography plays in the context of powerful epistemologies. Ethnography’s complicity in the conception and maintenance of the colonial project has been a central concern to ethnographers ever since the first critical debates on anthropology’s disciplinary history emerged in the first decades of decolonisation. Considering the popularity that ethnographic methods have come to enjoy across the social sciences, the discourse around ethnography’s legacy as colonial practice has remained of critical importance. In this context, the asymmetric power relations involved in ethnographic research as well as the ethnographers’ own entanglements with hegemonic epistemologies have emerged as critical points of ethical and methodological reflection. Thereby, the positionality of both experts and expertise, the dominance of Euro- Western ontology and epistemology, and the intersectionality of epistemic exclusion and invisibility have been increasingly problematised. While ethnography’s contribution to the construction and maintenance of epistemic hierarchies is at the forefront of ongoing debates, attention has also been devoted to the critical potential of ethnographic methods and the role it could play in challenging dominant modes of knowledge production.
Considering this ambiguity, this workshop, on the one hand, creates a space for introspective engagement with our own knowledge production and its relationship to power. On the other, we want to probe ethnography as a vector for change and explore its potential contribution to the dismantlement of knowledge barriers and boundaries. Our hands-on reflections are complemented by inputs from scholars working with ethnographic methods and/or postcolonial theory that problematise the relationship between knowledge and knowledge carrier in the context of different knowledge practices and explore both challenges and opportunities for ethnographic research. We want to explore the following questions:
1. How do we cope with the challenge of interrogating our own powerful knowledge production?
2. How can ethnography be used for critiquing disciplinary conventions and methods of knowledge production?
3. What are the specific challenges of ethnographic studies of powerful epistemologies?
The workshop is co-organized by the DVPW working group Ethnografische Methoden in der Politikwissenschaft and the C2PO (Center for Political Practices and Orders), Erfurt University. It will take place in Erfurt on May 25/26, 2023 (in person). Please note that travel, accommodation, and dinner need to be covered by the participants.
Please register at email@example.com until May 4, 2023.
Workshop, November 3–4, 2022, Marburg University
A central concern of political ethnography lies in the relationship between ethnographic research practice and modes of critical and normative politics. Notions of critique in political ethnography can relate to the decisions of what and whom we research, how we understand and represent our objects of research, and how we navigate questions of reflexivity and positionality in our research process. Furthermore, ethnographic research can have the potential to address forms of social injustice and inequalities and develop forms of ‘grounded critique’ that aim at contributing to changing these conditions toward greater equity and equality. We dedicate this workshop to the critical potential of political ethnography and want to dive deeper into the above aspects in a collaborative manner.
The workshop is co-organized by the DVPW working group “Ethnografische Methoden in der Politikwissenschaft” and the Center for Conflict Studies at Philipps-University, Marburg. It will take place in Marburg on November 3/4, 2022. Please note that travel, accommodation, and dinner need to be covered by the participants.
Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org until October 12, 2022.
Workshop, November 3–4, 2022, Marburg University
A central concern of political ethnography lies in the relationship between ethnographic research practice and modes of critical and normative politics. Notions of critique in political ethnography can relate to the decisions of what and whom we research, how we understand and represent our objects of research, and how we navigate questions of reflexivity and positionality in our research process. Furthermore, ethnographic research can have the potential – and ethnographic researchers often take on the task of political and ethical responsibility – to address forms of social injustice and inequalities and develop forms of ‘grounded critique’ that aim at contributing to changing these conditions toward greater equity and equality. We dedicate this workshop to the critical potential of political ethnography, and call for short abstracts and ideas for contributions that address and explore one (or more) of the following questions:
• What kind of critique can ethnographic approaches promote, and what kind of critique (e.g., feminist and decolonial forms of critique, Marxist traditions, Critical Theory…) can inform ethnographic research?
• What forms/modes can ethnographic critique take?
• Which critical objectives are at odds with ethnography?
• What is the relationship between scholarship and activism in critical practice?
• What are specific dilemmas of ethnographic critique?
Beyond these questions, we are curious to receive contributions on other dimensions of the topic. Please send us your ideas and, if possible, a short abstract (250 words) until August 21, 2022 to email@example.com. If your contribution is selected, we will ask for a short paper (around 5 pages) to be circulated by October 27.
The Politics of/in Ethnographic Writing, Frankfurt am Main
In this workshop, we will address the political dimensions of and in ethnographic writing: How can we deal with different political concepts and definitions that inform our ethnographic writing? How can we address the challenges that are often part of interdisciplinary collaborations, in particular when it concerns the writing process? And how can we think about the politics of textwork and publishing ethnographic research? The workshop starts on Monday, June 20, 2022, at 6 pm, with a keynote address by Anna Leander (Geneva Graduate Institute) on “Destabilizing Definitions: The Challenge of Doing Ethnographic Concept Work in International Relations”. On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the workshop will offer a rich program that builds on the keynote and our ongoing engagement with ethnographic writing. We will discuss the promise of ethnographic writing, but also address practical problems of writing-up and publishing. We will work collectively on strategies from observation to publication, and we will discuss the changing publishing landscape for ethnographers in political science.
The workshop is co-organized by the DVPW Themengruppe “Ethnografische Methoden in der Politikwissenschaft” and the Research Department “Global Junctions” at Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) and will take place in Frankfurt (Main) on June 20/21, 2022.
Please note that travel, accommodation and meals need to be covered by the participants. Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org until June 12, 2022.
Am 23. April um 14.00 Uhr organisieren wir einen Kurz-Workshop zum Thema ethnographisches Schreiben. Dvora Yanow wird uns mit einem Vortrag in den Gegenstand einführen wird. Anschließend gibt es Zeit und Raum zur Diskussion, vor Allem aber auch der Abfrage spezifischer Bedürfnisse in unserer Gruppe. Denn aufbauend auf diesen Workshop werden wir dann immer am letzten Freitag im Monat eine Schreibgruppe anbieten.
Das Ziel hierbei ist es, dass wir gemeinsam etwa eine bis eineinhalb Stunden an einem ganz konkreten Problem des ethnographischen Schreibens arbeiten, das aus unserer Gruppe selbst kommt. Wenn ihr ethnographische Texte schreibt, seid ihr also dazu aufgefordert, euch zu beteiligen. Das kann eine Frage sein („wie gehe ich mit X um?“), oder ein paar Seiten der dichten Beschreibung, die an anderen ausprobiert wird, oder aber eine Textstelle, an der ihr gerade nicht weiterkommt. Gemeinsam werden wir dann anhand der Beispiele über ethnographisches Schreiben sprechen und dabei hoffentlich den jeweils vorstellenden Mitgliedern beim Lösen ihrer Fragen und Probleme helfen. Wir stellen uns das ganz informell vor. Das heißt: keine langen Papiere (max. 5 Seiten), keine Präsentationen, sondern ein lockeres Gespräch, bei dem wir uns gegenseitig unterstützen und voneinander lernen.
Bitte meldet euch für die Schreibgruppe hier an: ethnografiedvpwde