Ethnography, Culture, and Representations: Introduction to Anthropology

Course code: YΠ 313

Semester: 3


Konstantinos Kalantzis

Course description

Ethnography is considered a trademark of social anthropology and it is primary method through which anthropologists distinguish themselves from other social scientists. Often seen as synonymous with participant observation, ethnography brings the researcher into an intimate relationship with his/her subject. This intimacy opens up a series of possibilities but also generates various challenges concerning: observation, empathy, description and understanding of the studied societies. This course is centered on ethnography as a historically evolving methodology and it examines ethnography’s potentials as well as its various trajectories and scopes, some of which turn critically against itself. The course also overviews different theoretical models concerning “culture” and assesses the impact these models had on the exploration of human life. The course further highlights different ways of doing ethnography that exceed textual modalities and it also explores the ways in which critiques of ethnography conversed with wider debates in the arts and humanities. The course thus examines different ethnographic debates: both old (e.g., the honor and shame debate) and newer ones, for instance those concerning the “crisis of representation” which problematized fundamental tenets of pre-1980s anthropology and sought to expose the power inherent to the anthropological endeavour.



Social, Cultural and Visual Anthropology, Cultural Theory, History of Ideas, Social-Science Methods, Qualitative Research Methodology



Suggested bibliography

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2000. “Locating Ethnography,” Ethnography 1(2): 261-267. 


Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 1992. “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: Who speaks for “Indian” pasts?” Representations  37: 1–26..


Clifford, James. 1986. “Introduction: Partial Truths”. Στο Writing Culture (J. Clifford  και G. Marcus επιμ.). Berkeley: University of California Press.


Da Col, Giovanni και David Graeber. 2011. “The Return of Ethnographic Theory”. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1 (1): vi–xxxv.


Fabian, Johannes. 1983. Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. New York: Columbia University Press.


Nader, Laura. 2011. “Ethnography as Theory.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1 (1): 211–219. 


Ortner, Sherry. 2016. “Dark Anthropology and its Others: Theory since the Eighties”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6 (1):47-56.