Navigators of the Contemporary: Why Ethnography Matters
David A. Westbrook
SUNY Buffalo Law School
David A. Westbrook, NAVIGATORS OF THE CONTEMPORARY: WHY ETHNOGRAPHY MATTERS, University of Chicago Press, 2008
Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper
As the image of anthropologists exploring exotic locales and filling in blanks on the map has faded, the idea that cultural anthropology has much to say about the present has likewise diminished. How can anthropology help us to tackle the concerns of contemporary global society? David A. Westbrook argues that the traditional tool of the cultural anthropologist – ethnography – still works as an intellectually exciting way to understand our interconnected, yet mysterious worlds.
Navigators of the Contemporary describes the changing nature of ethnography as anthropologists use it to analyze places closer to home. Westbrook maintains that a conversational style of ethnography can help us look beyond our assumptions and gain new insights into arenas of contemporary life such as corporations, science, the military, and religion. Westbrook's witty, absorbing book is a friendly challenge to anthropologists to shed light on the present, and for those outside the discipline, his inspiring vision of ethnography opens up the prospect of understanding our own world in much greater depth.
Keywords: anthropology, bureaucracy, cultural anthropology, globalization, political theory, social theory, sociology of knowledge
Date posted: October 4, 2011