Cover image for Ethnography through thick and thin
Ethnography through thick and thin
Marcus, George E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
x, 275 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Imagining the whole: ethnography's contemporary efforts to situate itself (1989) -- Requirements for ethnographies of late-twentieth-century modernity worldwide (1991) -- Ethnography in/of the world system: the emergence of multi-sited ethnography (1995) -- The uses of complicity in the changing mise-en-scène of anthropological fieldwork (1997) -- Power on the extreme periphery: the perspective of Tongan elites in the modern world system (1980) -- The problem of the unseen world of wealth for the rich: toward an ethnography of complex connections (1989) -- On eccentricity (1995) -- On ideologies of reflexivity in contemporary efforts to remake the human sciences (1994) -- Critical cultural studies as one power/knowledge like, among, and in engagement with others (1997) -- Sticking with ethnography through thick and thin (1997).

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GN345 .M373 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the 1980s, George Marcus spearheaded a major critique of cultural anthropology, expressed most clearly in the landmark book Writing Culture, which he coedited with James Clifford. Ethnography through Thick and Thin updates and advances that critique for the late 1990s. Marcus presents a series of penetrating and provocative essays on the changes that continue to sweep across anthropology. He examines, in particular, how the discipline's central practice of ethnography has been changed by "multi-sited" approaches to anthropology and how new research patterns are transforming anthropologists' careers. Marcus rejects the view, often expressed, that these changes are undermining anthropology. The combination of traditional ethnography with scholarly experimentation, he argues, will only make the discipline more lively and diverse.

The book is divided into three main parts. In the first, Marcus shows how ethnographers' tradition of defining fieldwork in terms of peoples and places is now being challenged by the need to study culture by exploring connections, parallels, and contrasts among a variety of often seemingly incommensurate sites. The second part illustrates this emergent multi-sited condition of research by reflecting it in some of Marcus's own past research on Tongan elites and dynastic American fortunes. In the final section, which includes the previously unpublished essay "Sticking with Ethnography through Thick and Thin," Marcus examines the evolving professional culture of anthropology and the predicaments of its new scholars. He shows how students have increasingly been drawn to the field as much by such powerful interdisciplinary movements as feminism, postcolonial studies, and cultural studies as by anthropology's own traditions. He also considers the impact of demographic changes within the discipline--in particular the fact that anthropologists are no longer almost exclusively Euro-Americans studying non-Euro-Americans. These changes raise new issues about the identities of anthropologists in relation to those they study, and indeed, about what is to define standards of ethnographic scholarship.

Filled with keen and highly illuminating observations, Ethnography through Thick and Thin will stimulate fresh debate about the past, present, and future of a discipline undergoing profound transformations.

Author Notes

George E. Marcus is Professor of Anthropology at Rice University.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This collection of essays represents two decades of work, during which time Marcus (anthropology, Rice Univ.) has progressed from skilled ethnographer of Polynesian society to academic superstar. Despite the title, little here could properly be called ethnography. These ten essays are mostly about the business of anthropology and as such are more pertinent to the realms of sociology and intellectual history than to traditional social and cultural anthropology. A nonspecialist would be hard put to find much of interest in these pages. Moreover, the quality of many of these pieces suggests that Marcus has been spreading his considerable talents too thin‘they are not carefully written. Nevertheless, Marcus is among the most widely cited anthropologists writing today, and this volume will undoubtedly be in demand, especially in academic libraries.‘Glenn Petersen, CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Anthropology on the Movep. 3
Part 1 An Evolving Proposal for Multi-Sited Researchp. 31
1 Imagining the Whole: Ethnography's Contemporary Efforts to Situate Itself (1989)p. 33
2 Requirements for Ethnographies of Late-Twentieth-Century Modernity Worldwide (1991)p. 57
3 Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography (1995)p. 79
4 The Uses of Complicity in the Changing Mise-en-Scene of Anthropological Fieldwork (1997)p. 105
Part 2 Traces in Parallel Ethnographic Projectsp. 133
5 Power on the Extreme Periphery: The Perspective of Tongan Elites in the Modern World System (1980)p. 135
6 The Problem of the Unseen World of Wealth for the Rich: Toward an Ethnography of Complex Connections (1989)p. 152
7 On Eccentricity (1995)p. 161
Part 3 The Changing Conditions of Professional Culture in the Production of Ethnographyp. 179
8 On Ideologies of Reflexivity in Contemporary Efforts to Remake the Human Sciences (1994)p. 181
9 Critical Cultural Studies as One Power/Knowledge Like, Among, and in Engagement with Others (1997)p. 203
10 Sticking with Ethnography through Thick and Thin (1997)p. 231
Indexp. 255