Barnett Singer is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Victoria, Canada. He has published several books and numerous articles on topics in modern French history.
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.
Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.
Davies examines why reflexivity, at both personal and broader cultural levels, should be integrated into ethnographic research and discusses how this can be accomplished for a variety of research methods. This revised and updated second edition includes:a new chapter on internet-based research and ‘interethnography’ chapters on selection of topics and methods, data collection and analysis, and ethics and politics of research practical advice on writing up ethnographic study new and updated research examples.
Postmodernist relativism can lead to an over-emphasis on reflexivity that denies the possibility of social research. Reflexive Ethnography utilises postmodernist insights – incorporation of different standpoints, exposure of the intellectual tyranny of meta-narratives – but proposes that reflexive ethnographic research be undertaken from a realist perspective. Reflexive Ethnography will help students to use and understand ethnographic research practices that fully incorporate reflexivity without abandoning claims to develop valid knowledge of social reality.