An interesting look at the common practice of packaging the depiction of the ‘other’ in getting ethnographic work published. As I figure out how to generate interest for ethnographic work on relations between Japanese and Peruvians in Japan–a setting that might sound exotic to some of my colleagues at ASA but to me and my informants is familiar and everyday–I feel pulled between the pressures to publish and the pressures to fairly represent the site, the data, the people, etc.
Yesterday at the 2014 American Sociological Association Annual meeting, Wisconsin Sociology Professor Alice Goffman ran the disciplinary gauntlet in the form of an author meets critics session focused on her new book, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Goffman has received a great deal of press for her work (e.g. here), and there has been, especially in the wake of the attention, expressions of hostility to On the Run. Critics have raised questions about the validity of the research, Goffman’s ethnographic focus on the most stereotypically “ghetto” of the residents of the neighborhood where she did her fieldwork, issues of research ethics, and the white and privileged position from which the book and its warrant seem to be emanating. A large crowd turned out for the event, many attendees were looking for the opportunity to criticize the book and its author. The hostility was undeniable.
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