SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Ethnographic Research Methods

Module Code:
15PANH002
Credits:
15
FHEQ Level:
7
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 1

This Module takes research methods as philosophically and practically exciting techniques and attitudes that allow us to know and understand the world better. To know anthropological research methodology is better to understand the self, which is to better understand anthropological research methodology.

The material addresses the history and foundations of anthropological knowledge, and describes some of the key concepts in anthropological methodology by using ‘ethnographic writing’ as a guide. The Module encourages self-reflexivity, ethical conduct, and an anticipatory awareness of research practice and design. We explore ideas such as participant observation, the field, fieldwork, fieldnotes, interviewing and the ways in which scales of knowledge (local and global) can be brought into conversation through well-thought through methodology.

Our aim is to encourage excellent, thoughtful and ethical research, through exploring key epistemological debates (how we know things), the nature of qualitative research data, and the conditions of its production.
The Module includes practical sessions (e.g., on interview technique) and short fieldwork assignments to generate critical awareness among students of their own ‘research personality’ and the assumptions they bring to questions as researchers.


Note: Not open to students enrolled in 15PANC091, Research Methods in Anthropology.

Topics covered include:

  • anthropology, ethnography and the making of ethnographic methods
  • ethnographic fieldwork, participant-observation and the ‘tacit dimension’
  • he anthropological self
  • interviewing, biography and life histories;
  • visual and auditory methods in anthropological research
  • multi-sited research and the changing ethnographic ‘field’
  • research ethics
  • researching ‘big stuff’ in 'small ways'
  • research design and proposal writing;
  • making sense of the world through anthropological research

The Module is at the core of our post-graduate degree programmes in Anthropology and key for dissertation preparation. The Module also attracts students from across SOAS and professional settings (particularly NHS and local authorities) who wish to incorporate more refined anthropological methodologies into their research practices.

Prerequisites

  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system.

Scope and syllabus

Topics covered include:

  • anthropology, ethnography and the making of ethnographic methods
  • ethnographic fieldwork, participant-observation and the ‘tacit dimension’
  • he anthropological self
  • interviewing, biography and life histories;
  • visual and auditory methods in anthropological research
  • multi-sited research and the changing ethnographic ‘field’
  • research ethics
  • researching ‘big stuff’ in 'small ways'
  • research design and proposal writing;
  • making sense of the world through anthropological research

Suggested reading

  • Borneman, J. and Abdullah Hammoudi. 2017. Being There: The Fieldwork Encounter and the Making of Truth. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Gupta, A. and J. Ferguson (eds) 1997. Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Hammersley, M. 2014. Reading Ethnographic Research: A Critical Guide. London: Routledge.
  • Skinner, J. 2012. The Interview: An Ethnographic Approach. London: Berg.
  • Simpson, Edward. 2013. The Political Biography of an Earthquake: Aftermath and Amnesia in Gujarat, India. London: Hurst.

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules