Decolonizing Ethnography: Undocumented Immigrants and New Directions in Social Science

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In August 2011, ethnographers Carolina Alonso Bejarano and Daniel M. Goldstein began a research project on undocumented immigration in the United States by volunteering at a center for migrant workers in New Jersey. Two years later, Lucia López Juárez and Mirian A. Mijangos García—two local immigrant workers from Latin America—joined Alonso Bejarano and Goldstein as research assistants and quickly became equal partners for whom ethnographic practice was inseparable from activism. In Decolonizing Ethnography the four coauthors offer a methodological and theoretical reassessment of social science research, showing how it can function as a vehicle for activism and as a tool for marginalized people to theorize their lives. Tacking between personal narratives, ethnographic field notes, an original bilingual play about workers' rights, and examinations of anthropology as a discipline, the coauthors show how the participation of Mijangos García and López Juárez transformed the project's activist and academic dimensions. In so doing, they offer a guide for those wishing to expand the potential of ethnography to serve as a means for social transformation and decolonization.
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About the author

Carolina Alonso Bejarano is an activist scholar and writer who teaches in the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University. She is also a DJ and an editor, translator and collective member of Sangría Editora.

Lucia López Juárez is an activist who fights for equal rights for all people, a domestic worker, and a mother who cares for her home.

Mirian A. Mijangos García is a singer, songwriter, and naturopath. She is also a mother, an ethnographer, and an immigrants' rights activist.

Daniel M. Goldstein is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Rutgers University and author of Owners of the Sidewalk: Security and Survival in the Informal City, also published by Duke University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Apr 4, 2019
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781478004547
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Emigration & Immigration
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Over the past two decades anthropologists have been challenged to rethink the nature of ethnographic research, the meaning of fieldwork, and the role of ethnographers. Ethnographic fieldwork has cultural, social, and political ramifications that have been much discussed and acted upon, but the training of ethnographers still follows a very traditional pattern; this volume engages and takes its point of departure in the experiences of ethnographers-in-the-making that encourage alternative models for professional training in fieldwork and its intellectual contexts.

The work done by contributors to Fieldwork Is Not What It Used to Be articulates, at the strategic point of career-making research, features of this transformation in progress. Setting aside traditional anxieties about ethnographic authority, the authors revisit fieldwork with fresh initiative. In search of better understandings of the contemporary research process itself, they assess the current terms of the engagement of fieldworkers with their subjects, address the constructive, open-ended forms by which the conclusions of fieldwork might take shape, and offer an accurate and useful description of what it means to become—and to be—an anthropologist today.

Contributors: Lisa Breglia, George Mason University; Jae A. Chung, Aalen University; James D. Faubion, Rice University; Michael M. J. Fischer, MIT; Kim Fortun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Jennifer A. Hamilton, Hampshire College; Christopher M. Kelty, UCLA; George E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine; Nahal Naficy, Rice University; Kristin Peterson, University of California, Irvine; Deepa S. Reddy, University of Houston-Clear Lake

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