On Teaching Ethnography in Troubled Times

  • Andrew Gardner University of Puget Sound


In this essay, I describe a conflagration stemming from a field-based ethnographic exercise I utilize in one of the courses I’ve designed and regularly teach. In my estimation, the contours of the conflagration I describe illuminate the institutional and ideological parameters of a paradigm that currently dominates contemporary American campuses. I suggest that my experience points to frictions between that seemingly hegemonic academic paradigm and the core values and practices that the discipline of anthropology endeavors to carry into the new millennium. I conclude that this experience portends a difficult future for an anthropologically-moored practice of ethnography — one that seeks to systematically and empathically explore the experiences of diverse others in this world.

Developing Teaching: Reports and Reflections