Globalizing Method: The Problems of Doing Ethnography in Transnational Spaces

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Abstract

The thrust Of this article is to consider how globalizing methods might enable social scientists to better comprehend the complexity of transnational/transcultural spaces. Accordingly, I first describe the global forces that have resulted in increased transnational flows of West Africans to North America. I then present a brief portrait of the community of West African traders in New York City. This sociological portrait is followed by a discussion of how the specter of transnationalism in North America has compelled me to reconsider some previously-held epistemological and methodological assumptions. The article concludes with a brief consideration of how ethnographic confrontations in transnational spaces like New York City might affect future methods and concepts in anthropology.

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