HAU

The power of ethnography in the public sphere

Thorgeir Kolshus

Abstract


A number of anthropology’s most emblematic innovations have caught on elsewhere. Yet anthropologists seem almost distressed by the success of concepts like “culture” and “ethnicity” and too readily dispose of them in the name of scholarly fastidiousness. Lately, “ethnographic method” has gained multidisciplinary attention. Instead of providing guidance to the limits of ethnography, we engage in a search for the catchall definition, risking abandoning the vague-but-useful for the optimal-but-unattainable. In this article, I draw on my experience as a public anthropologist to show how ethnography, in the scholarly highly unsatisfactory meaning of “good stories,” is crucial to our public engagements, which again triggers a curiosity to anthropology that the future of our discipline depends on.

Keywords


public anthropology, transdisciplinary impact, popularizing, academic writing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau7.1.009