Ethnography (was New AA)

Sun, 6 Nov 1994 13:26:16 EST

American Anthropologist that cited the Tedlocks' announcement in the
latest Anthro. Newsletter that they look forward to publishing a couple
of papers on the ethnography of plays. Rob asked: who cares? (and his
posting contained other points as well). Someone--whose name and message
I've lost (apologies to that poster)--responded with a defense of studying
drama and a ref. to Victor Turner. Today Tom Riley says: /By definition
you cannot do an ethnography of plays/...and then asks about a definition
of ethnography. Here's one for starters:
Ethnography is both a process and a product. As a process ethnography
involves fieldwork, a researcher's immersion in a particular cultural con-
text, resulting in a product that uses finegrained details and an analytic
framework (that is based on some underlying theory) to convey the dimensions
and meaning of the context. Originally developed by anthropologists to
make sense of socalled /primitive/ cultures, ethnography has been applied
much more broadly by anthropologists (since the 1940s at least) and has been
appropriated in recent years by scholars in other disciplines and by
practitioners in other professions(One could argue that ethnography has
been misunderstood or misappropriated but that is a different discussion).
Using the definition above I could easily imagine doing an ethnography
of a particular play (interviewing the author, following a production from
rehearsals to closing,...) or of a play often performed in one or more
cultures, or....
I think just about anything is grist for the ethnographer's mill....
and it's up to the ethnographer to convince her readers that they should
care about the results.
Denise O'Brien