November 14, 2010

One word (and then some more)

So, one word has been keeping me busy for the last month or so: proposal.

That's pretty much all that I have been doing: writing a little, reading a lot, and writing some more. Funny how it can take so much time to jam information into one little document.

The methods section is especially difficult to frame out in a detailed sense, especially since the actual data collection is quite far off in the future. The proposal guidelines was some pretty specific information about how data will be handled--but the catch 22 is that any analytical methods necessarily depend on the ethnographic data, which doesn't really exist. I understand the reasons why reviewers want specifics...they want to make sure that people have a plan and know (somewhat) what they are doing. That makes sense. At the same time, sitting here two years in advance of the time when I will start really analyzing all of my (future) ethnographic data, it's a little difficult to predict how I will connect research question 2 with research question 4b. Just sayin.

In related news, I am putting photography in my methods section, even though that might not go over all that well with the powers that be (grant reviewers). We'll see how that works. What I find interesting is the fact that photography is (for some reason) still seen as something that is more subjective or less scientific than the written word. Didn't we move past that in the 1990s? I thought so, but apparently not. The ironic thing to me is that many ethnographers use photography and other visual tool in their work all the time--but they don't all include these tools in theoretical or methodological discussions. Interesting. This happens with photography all the time--ethnographers use cameras as supplementary tools without explicitly including them with the standard "tools" like participant observation, interviews, surveys, etc. Still, there are a lot of anthropologists who use visual methods--and use them quite well. The book "Righteous Dopefiend" by Phillipe Bourgois and Jeff Shonberg is just one example. Joao Biehl's "Vita" is another example. And there are tons of others.

Speaking of photography check out this link about the work of Susan Meiselas.

Reading update: I spend the last couple of weeks reading A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari. Final analysis: some good ideas in there, but it's best to approach the book with a little humor. At least, that's what worked best for me. And that strategy makes sense, because D&G kinda use the book to mess with readers a bit (the chapter on "The Geology of Morals" is a case in point). I definitely found some good ideas in the book, along with plenty of really dense passages that I was not all that interested in trying to decode for secret, embedded meanings.

Lastly, how about this:

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