Long-time Savage Minds commentator John McCreery has a question for our readership:
The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography by Luke Eric Lassiter is a powerful, persuasive, and, to me, deeply troubling book. It’s thesis is summarized (p. 16) as follows.
“Collaborative ethnography invites commentary from our consultants and seeks to make that commentary overtly part of the ethnographic text as it develops. In turn, this negotiation is reintegrated back into the fieldwork process itself. Importantly, the process yields texts that are co-conceived and co-written with local communities of collaborators and consider multiple audiences outside the confines of academic discourse, including local constituencies.”
As the end of a story that begins with the colonial anthropologist writing about anonymous others surveyed with the God-like gaze, confident that they will never read what he has written, the steps prescribed in this passage sound like steps forward. But what, I ask myself, if the collaborators in question work for large corporations or government agencies and co-writing requires clearance from their employers’ PR departments?