How long has it sat on my bookshelf, this volume titled Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections, and Imaginations in a Postmodern World, authored by Michael Burawoy, Joseph A. Blum, Sheba George, Zsusa Gille, Teresa Gowan, Lynne Haney, Maren Klawiter, Steven H. Lopex, Sean O Rian and Mille Thayer and published in the year 2000?

The introduction by Michael Burawoy is a tour de force, situating the origins of ethnography in Thomas and Znaniecki's Polish Peasant in America and the work of Chicago School sociologists in the 1920s and 1930s alongside Malinowski and the Manchester School in Great Britain. The tone is friendly, yet sharply critical. Thus, for example,

"Where Thomas and Snaniecki sought to locate the subjective, lived experience of the Polish peasant in its widest historical and geographical context, Malinowski, reacting against evolutionary theory, was militantly opposed to history and consideration of the extra local context. Thomas and Znaniecki's rich tapestry of traveling and dwelling is in sharp contrast to Malinowski's solitary confinement. Yet they do share one feature. Like Malinowski's isolation of the Trobriand community, Thomas and Znaniecki searched for an original, self-contained 'peasant community'.....

If, he later writes, Malinowski produced ethnography that studiously disregarded imperialism, Thomas and Znaniecki produced an account of subjective experience that studiously disregarded capitalism and the origin and larger agendas of the capitalist institutions that shaped the Polish peasant immigrant to America's life experience.

Anyway. It looks like a great book. If nothing else, reading a sociologist's take on the history of ethnography definitely widened my perspective.

Thoughts and comments are welcome.

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