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THE END(S) OF ETHNOGRAPHY: Social/Cultural Anthropology's Signature Form of Producing Knowledge in Transition



Today's investment in and calls for public anthropology are one symptom of the profound rupture and reorganization of the research agendas of social/cultural anthropology as it moved away from the four-field organization of anthropology into an alignment with certain humanities-driven, energetically interdisciplinary appropriations of the concerns of the social sciences in the name of “theory.” In anthropology, this story can most cogently be told by focusing on what happened to its central professional culture of method: what ethnography looks like today and the conditions of research, encompassing fieldwork, that produce it. This article is an examination of this reorganization of social/cultural anthropology, which has left the center of the discipline intellectually weak relative to the vitality of its diverse interdisciplinary and even nonacademic engagements. It asks whether this post-1980s reorganized social/cultural anthropology might rediscover and reunite with some of its historic core associations (four-field as well as topical) in the new terrains of research and partnerships on the peripheries of its old disciplinary center.

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