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The first edition of Ethnografeast was held in 2002 at the University of California, Berkeley. Its purpose was 'to take stock of the past achievements, to reflect on the contemporary practice, and to sketch out the promise of ethnography as a distinctive mode of inquiry and form of public consciousness'. Its spirit was to foster a dialogue across three divides: 1) the split between national traditions, 2) the separation of sociology and anthropology, that is, the two major disciplines historically tied to the creation and to the definition of ethnography's standards, and 3) the diversity of styles of ethnographic work. Since then, the continued expansion and proliferation of ethnographic methods into other disciplines, from literature to political science to business, has made reflecting on current ethnographic approaches by the founding disciplines of ethnography all the more critical. As a result, in 2004 at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, Ethnografeast II focused on 'The Making of Ethnography' in its different stages of production.

The Ethnografeast III deepens and extends the wide-open discussions launched at the previous two meetings. It brings together a new group of field-based scholars to address the relationship between ethnography and the public sphere. Questions raised by this relationship go beyond classical discussions about 'applied' or other research whose 'usefulness' is understood strictly in instrumental terms. They involve not only research which engages policy-making and makers, but, more widely, research that tackles salient social issues or politically significant phenomena -- such as immigration, urban poverty, incarceration, health care, the transformation of welfare policies, new genetic technologies, new forms of family and 'relatedness', the politics of culture and cultural heritage -- in ways that challenge common political notions and institutions. The relevance of ethnographic research for civic concerns or the public framing of research questions and findings, the agendas, the audiences and the circulation of ethnographic products, the negotiation of ethnographic expertise, the question of the continuities and discontinuities between ethnographic knowledge and civic choices or political decisions, for example, are issues that call for a broad reflection on the effects of public debates on ethnography and vice-versa.

The conference coordinators,

Manuela P. da Cunha (CEAS/IDEMEC/NEA-University of Minho)
Antónia P. Lima (CEAS/ISCTE)
Loïc Wacquant (University of California, Berkeley/Centre de sociologie européenne, Paris)

Centro de Estudos de Antropologia Social (ISCTE, Portugal) / Journal Ethnography / University of California-Berkeley



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