In this lecture, I will provide a historical sketch of the foundations of ethnographic discourse studies. Students will learn how, over the course of the last century, the ethnographic study of discourse has developed a rigorous understanding of the importance of context and contextualisation. Contexts make discursive fragments socially meaningful and context is therefore also the nexus of the ethnographer’s interpretation and representation of discourse and culture. This requires ethnographers to work reflexively and to engage in the dual processes of making the strange familiar and making the familiar strange. The lecture will invite students to engage in brief interpretations of images and discursive fragments and determine their contexts and social meanging. Some of the ideas we touch upon in this lecture will be taken up again on Friday in Yannik Porsch’s lecture on Methodological Operationalisations.


McClaurin, Irma (ed.) (2001) Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis and Poetics. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Blommaert, Jan (2018) Dialogues with Ethnography: Notes on Classics, and How I Read Them. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Free pre-print version available here: https://www.academia.edu/19342202/TPCS_138_Dialogues_with_Ethnography._Notes_on_classics_and_how_I_read_them_by_Jan_Blommaert

Saville-Troike, Muriel (2008) The Ethnography of Communication: An Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Snell, Julia, Sara Shaw and Fiona Copland (2015) Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Geertz, Clifford (1988) Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Free version available here: https://monoskop.org/images/3/3f/Geertz_Clifford_Works_and_Lives_The_Anthropologist_as_Author_1988.pdf

S6_Ethnographic discourse studies_ Historical foundations – J. Naveel Singh

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