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Methods in Social Anthropology

Anthropological Methods deals with how fieldwork is conducted, how anthropologists collect data, in relation to how anthropological knowledge is produced and conveyed via texts.

The course is organized around six themes: participant observation and other flexible research forms, roles and relations of the fieldworker, the anthropological interview, ethics in the field and after, the computer program NVivo7 and writing – from field notes to published text. The course discusses central ideas about the nature of good ethnography and how different types of fields (long-term, multi-local, mobile and transnational) are constructed, raising questions about the meaning of place. During the course common phases in the field are described and strategies (technologies) for material collection of different material categories (such as documents in archives, genealogies, network, time budgets, media material, Internet material and surveys) are included.

The course also brings up interpretation, coding and analysis of data, as well as concepts such as representation and memory. The role of the fieldworker in relation to informants, assistants and friends is another important area, which leads to discussions on reflexivity and personal and political relations of the fieldworker to his or her field. Here issues of age, ethnicity and gender can be included. Circumstances such as violence, political unrest and epidemics in the field can be decisive in how fieldwork is conducted, but even in a field which is free of such risks it is crucial to attain a balance and a sense of well-being in order to function well as a fieldworker.

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.

    To be updated

  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Autumn 2020


    Aull Davies, Charlotte (2007). Reflexive Ethnography, A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. London: Routledge

    Borneman, John and Hammoudi Abdellah (red.) (2009). Being There: A Fieldwork Encounter and the Making of Truth. University of California Press. (selection 100-150 pages) 

    Coleman, Simon and Peter Collins (eds). (2006). Locating the Field: Space, Place and Context in Anthropology. Oxford/New York: Berg. (selection 100-150 pages)

    Pink, Sarah. 2015. Doing Sensory Ethnography. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publication Ltd. [e-book] (selection, 80 pages)

    Stoller, Paul. 1989. The Taste of Ethnographic Things: The Senses in Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. [e-book] (selection, 28 pages)

    Tuhiwai Smith, Linda (2012). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books. (selection 60-80 pages) 

    Articles and online resources

    Nader, Laura (2011). Ethnography as theory. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1 (1)

    Pollard, Amy (2009). Field of screams: difficulty and ethnographic fieldwork. Anthropology Matters Journal, Vol 11(2): 1-24  

    American Anthropological Association (ASA). 2012. Principles of Professional Responsibility 

    Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth (ASA). 2011. Ethical Guidelines for good research practice 

    Allegra Lab. 2017. Violence and Vulnerability in Anthropology

    Metooanthro resources (selection) 

    Sage Research Methods: Cases in Anthropology (selection)

    Student selection 

    Students will also identify methods literature that is applicable to their upcoming fieldwork (50-200 pages). These can be selected from recommended literature, and/or other sources.  

    Recommended literature:

    Banks, Marcus & David Zeitlyn (2015). Visual Methods in Social Research, 2nd edition. London: SAGE

    Candea, Matei (2007). Arbitrary locations: in defence of the bounded field-site. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 13,: 167-184.

    Cerwonka, Allaine and Liisa Malkki (2007). Improvising Theory, Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork. University of Chicago Press. 

    Collins, S. G., M. Durington, P. F. Favero, K. Harper, A. Kenner, and C. O’Donnell. 2017. “Ethnographic Apps/Apps as Ethnography.” Anthropology Now 9 (1): 102–118

    Favero, Paolo (2013). Picturing Life-Worlds in the City. Notes for a Slow, Aimless and Playful Visual Ethnography. Archivio Antropologico Mediterraneo, 15 (2)

    Hage, Ghassan (2005). A not so multi-sited ethnography of a not so imagined community. Anthropological Theory, 5:463

    Hammersley, Martin och Paul Atkinson (2003). Ethnography, Principles in Practice. Third edition. London: Routledge .

    Hannerz, Ulf. (2003). Being there … and there … and there!. Ethnography, 4(2), p 201-216 

    Hine, Christine (2015). Ethnography for the Internet: embedded, embodied and everyday. London: Bloomsbury

    Irving, Andrew. (2013). Bridges: A New Sense of Scale. The Senses and Society 8 (3): 290-313. Doi: 10.2752/174589313X13712175020514. 

    Kozinets, Robert. (2015). Netnography: redefined. 2nd ed. London: SAGE

    Moore, Sally Falk (2005). Comparisons: Possible and impossible. Annual Review of Anthropology, 34: 1-11.

    Nader, Laura. (1972). Up the Anthropologist—Perspectives Gained from Studying Up. In Reinventing Anthropology. Dell Hymes, ed, 284-311. New York: Pantheon Books.

    Pink, S., H. Horst, J. Postill, L. Hjorth, T. Lewis, and J. Tacchi. 2016. Digital Ethnography. Principles and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage

    Priyadharshini, Esther (2003). Coming Unstuck: Thinking Otherwise about ‘Studying Up.’ Anthropology & Education Quarterly 34(4):420-437.

    O'Dell, Tom and Willim, Robert. (2013). Transcription and the Senses. The Senses and Society 8 (3): 314-334. Doi: 10.2752/174589313X13712175020550.

    Okely, Judith och Helen Callaway (eds.) (1992). Anthropology and Autobiography. London: Routledge.

    Rabinow, Paul (1971/2007). Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco. University of California Press.

    Rodineliussen, Rasmus (2017) Visual Methods to Study the Underwater World. Scuba Divers and a Sensorial Experience of Water. Anthrovision, 5.2. 1-14

    Simpson, Bob (2009). Messages from the Field. Anthropology Today 25 (5): 1-3.

    Stoller, Paul (1997). Sensuous Scholarship. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia.

    Vannini, Phillip (ed). (2020). The Routledge International Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video. New York: Routledge.

    van Ede, Yolanda. (2009). Sensuous Anthropology: Sense and Sensibility and the Rehabilitation of Skill. Anthropological Notebooks 15 (2): 61-75.

    Yamba, Bawa Christian (1985). Other cultures other anthropologists: the experiences of an African fieldworker. African Research and Documentation 37:1-20.