Political Ethnography

Term: Spring 2011

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 6196

 What does it mean to study politics from below? How does immersion of the researcher in the research world contribute to the study of power? What are the promises, and perils, of social research that invites the unruly minutiae of lived experience to converse with, and contest, abstract disciplinary theories and categories? In this practice-intensive seminar, we explore ethnographic and other qualitative fieldwork methods with specific attention to their potential to subvert, generate, and extend understandings of politics and power. Readings draw on exemplary political ethnographies as well as discussions of methodology and method in political science, sociology, and anthropology. Participants will have the opportunity to craft and conduct New York City based ethnographic research projects related to their primary areas of interest and will be expected to make significant weekly commitments to field research. The seminar is intended as preparation for students planning to conduct independent fieldwork for their MA or PhD research, but those interested in the epistemological, political and ethical implications of studying power from below are also welcome. This course fulfills the MA qualitative methods requirement.

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