Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ethnographic Profiling

I believe a few others voiced this opinion in a different context, but I agree nonetheless that this week's readings really helped put work in other courses into perspective. As most of us know all too well, assignment 2 in INF1001 (due last week) was to analyze Susan Leigh Star's article "The Ethnography of Infrastructure" (American Behavioral Scientist, 43.3 (1999): 377-391). One of the questions that seemed to be coming up frequently among other INF1001 students I spoke to was "ok, so what exactly IS the ethnography of infrastructure?" Indeed, in Star's article it is very difficult to tell what her methodology really is, despite the fact that she suggests that methodology is the focus of her entire paper. It was nice to have readings this week that looked at ethnography from different angles, and especially to read Luker's distinction between full-fledged ethnography on the one side and participant observer on the other, to actually get a sense of how ethnography can be carried out, and, more importantly, in relation to Star's article at least, what constitutes doing ethnography and what doesn't.

1 comment:

  1. Rebecca, I must admit I'm having the occasional eureka! moment when all my classes seem to collide and support each other. I, too, puzzled over the "ethnography" of "The Ethnography of Infrastructure" (or whatever that paper was called), but can't honestly say that I'm puzzling any less after reading Luker. (I should be puzzling less, I know, but I will admit that I am not. This independent research, commissioned and conducted by me, supports the hypothesis that I am a bear of very little brain.)

    I think one of my problems is that, even after reading Star and Luker, I continue to privilege the "human" subject when thinking about ethnography. I guess I think of "ethnographic research" very much as the kind of thing our guest speaker in 1001 described.