Ethnography/Autoethnography/Autobiography

Authored by: Wanda Vrasti

Routledge Handbook of International Political Sociology

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415732253
eBook ISBN: 9781315446486
Adobe ISBN: 9781315446479

10.4324/9781315446486.ch27

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Abstract

I assume I was asked to write the entry on ethnography for this volume on account of my early intervention in the journal Millennium, on what I then called the ‘ethnographic turn’ in IR (2008). The ethnographic turn, as I identified/anticipated it there, did not materialize in our discipline beyond a few disparate efforts, which I detail in this chapter, to come to terms with difference, subjectivity and the desire of language, which can only be grouped under the broader hyphenated rubric of ethnography-autoethnography-autobiography. Although things didn’t turn out as planned, the contributions made under this name deserve attention and praise for several reasons: they messed with the conventions of disciplinary research and writing, explored new ways for democratizing the production and communication of knowledge and will possibly open the door to related methodologies, not yet attempted in international politics, such as activist ethnography and militant inquiry. Best of all, this was done in a candid tone that resonated with many academics, especially younger scholars, feminist and postcolonial researchers, and in general, anyone who has felt confined or marginalized by the technical and impersonal foundations of our profession. In what follows, I review some of the main arguments and debates carried out in this corner of the discipline – how they developed, what contributions they brought, what difficulties they encountered, and where we could go from here.

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