“Sitting around a smoking fire of Arctic heather and driftwood, a young boy, Paul, told me the story of his best friend’s death.1 He was racing his snowmobile when he hit a guide wire. It caught him at the neck. Paul had been to the hospital to visit his friend, and his friend had tried to speak to him but no words would come out.
Our conversation around the fire soon moved to other deaths and other stories. But a little while later, reflecting on what happens after death, Paul remarked, “My sister used to say my uncle came back to life as a raven, and that raven is living behind our house.”
“Does she still think that?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” He pauses for a second and then adds, “It’s still there.”
The raven is still there. Is the raven that lives behind the house really Paul’s dead uncle? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But it’s still there.”
As this vivid fragment from Lisa Stevenson’s Life Beside Itself (2014) suggests, when conceived and executed in its most sincere form, ethnography can transcend the boundary of literary experimentation and academic configuration. In this class, we will attempt exactly that—to straddle the line between fiction and non-fiction, to get at the “perhaps” and “perhaps not” that underpin the experience of everyday life. Here, we will learn about ethnography as both an epistemological method as well as a kind of writing. Ethnography encompasses the studies of communities and phenomena of anthropological interests, as well as their modes of representation through different media—texts, photographs, and films, among others. Just how we articulate the concerns and livelihood of people and communities matters as much as what gets on the page. The course will introduce students to the history of and debates on ethnographic knowledge-making, as well as relevant skills and resources. Students will be reading examples of successful ethnographic monographs and analyzing them to arrive at insights for their own ethnographic research project.

offering time

Fall 22


Social Studies


Tram Luong



Course code


Discover the future awaiting
you at Fulbright

Learn how to apply

This site uses cookies to provide a better user experience.

Essential cookies are active by default and are necessary for the proper functioning of the website. Analytics cookies gather anonymous information for us to enhance and monitor the site. Performance cookies are employed by third parties to optimize their applications (such as videos and maps) that are embedded within our website. To accept all cookies, click 'I accept.' Alternatively, choose your preferences for analytics and performance cookies, then select 'Close cookie control.'