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Sitting vs. Doing, Contextualizing Ethnography

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Andy Shi

on 17 February 2016

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Transcript of Sitting vs. Doing, Contextualizing Ethnography

Sitting vs. Doing, Contextualizing Ethnography

Positioning: relevant to whom?
Ethnographers work in a muddled simultaneity where
scales, contexts, and audiences collapse into each other.

-Observation of Aids Worker
(Funder's demand, Imagined audience vs. the real audience)
-The language surrounding the aids phenomenon
(Cultural ontext, power relation, relavence)
Sitting Ethnography

The Ethnographer's point of interest:
-Mindfulness of being-in-place (context)
-Mindfulness of voice and tone (socially differentiated points of view)
-mindfulness of pattern, contradiction, and complexity (social structure)
-mindfulness of temporality and unfolding (practice)
-mindfulness of self and other (accountability and intersubjectivity)
-and mindfulness of shape and process (theoretical propositions).

Avoiding Orientalism


Ethnography should have more purpose than benefiting an immediate niche of audience. It should define what matters as well as understandings of why certain things matter.
Research should be formulated from specific social locations. Piggs advocates for a practice of patient
ethnographic “sitting” as a means to understanding, as a form of critical reflexivity, and as a diagnostic of the politics of relevance.
How does ethnography leads to knowledge production?
In Piggs' article, she used her story in Nepali aids prevention research to help us us understand how to position ethnography relative to active medical/social work.
Anthropologists continues to contribute to interdisciplinary conversations on health problems. However, in the face of intensifying demands on ethnographers to subsume their insights to ever narrower, utilitarian
goals. Piggs argue that it is important to recognize both the unique
character of ethnographic praxis and its inevitably awkward relationship
to the unfolding historical phenomenon of global health.

Discussion Questions

2.How does our positionality affect us as researchers? How can this positively impact our ethnographical knowledge production?
1.Does pursuing efficiency and productivity
have an negative or positive effect on research? Should it the goal of knowledge production?
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