Cutting edge method/style for its time, and one I might want to keep in mind for a future class for one of the first examples of "experimental" ethnogCutting edge method/style for its time, and one I might want to keep in mind for a future class for one of the first examples of "experimental" ethnography (to be anachronistic in its labelling). ...more
This is an ethnography with a great deal of description of elite high schools of Quito (particularly the French school), consistently pointing out theThis is an ethnography with a great deal of description of elite high schools of Quito (particularly the French school), consistently pointing out the production of race and racism. Despite the careful read and the detailed ethnography, I got relatively little out of this. Perhaps the study would have been improved had she conducted research beyond the confines of the school itself. As it was, I feel like I have a solid grasp of the institutionalized racism in high schools, and relatively little sense of how that plays out in any other aspect of a student's (or the student's family's) life. And, despite the discussion of the meaning of "elite", it remains unclear what relationship race might have to class or other aspects of a student's life. I found Karem Roitman to be more informative on race and the social elite (although that did not engage deeply with contextualizing theorization either). One of the most useful aspects of this book was the depiction of teacher-student relationships, and particularly the differences in hierarchy between Ecuadorian teachers and French teachers. In further explorations of citizenship, I will examination how foreignness features in Quiteno national subjectivities....more
I really thought this book was very good. I need to think more about it, and so this is going to be a crappy review, but if you are really curious, buI really thought this book was very good. I need to think more about it, and so this is going to be a crappy review, but if you are really curious, bug me about it and I'll come back and do a better one. ...more
I liked a LOT of this book. She manages to wholly escape the disturbing addiction to pathologizing pregnant teens, and makes no attempt to help the auI liked a LOT of this book. She manages to wholly escape the disturbing addiction to pathologizing pregnant teens, and makes no attempt to help the audience answer the question of "how it happened." Instead, she brings us closer to the lives of a number of young pregnant women - mostly Black women - in a high school where she did a program with them. She shares their artwork, their voices. She helps to unpack and explain what it really means to these young women to be mothers, to claim their (potential) babies as good and worthy. And in the third part, she talks a lot about her thoughts on and approach to ethnographic fieldwork.
She lets the reader into her mind a lot, lets us see (repeatedly) where she fails. And I am glad that she shares her failures with us. But - especially at the end - it moves from a way to bring people in, to (imho) overly confessional. It begins to feel less like insight into her limitations, and more like an apology for them. Furthermore, throughout the book, she struggled with race as an important site for identity construction and one which she was not comfortable with.
Although there is plenty wrong with this book (more than I've included here), this is still one of the better ones out there. I appreciate the ethnography and the starting place of understanding these young women as normal rather than deviant, as complex individuals rather than victims of the state or some sort of childlike incompetence. This is an important addition to what's out there on teen pregnancy and adolescent sexuality more generally. ...more
This is the book that set the "writing style" for ethnography for the majority of anthropology's short history, and its a damn shame, because comparedThis is the book that set the "writing style" for ethnography for the majority of anthropology's short history, and its a damn shame, because compared with Argonauts of the Western Pacific, it feels didactic.
He makes a couple of points in the Appendix on Field Reflections that I wish I'd read at the beginning (and indeed, that Appendix feels a lot like most introductions feel now). 1) More than analyze a society generally, he is examining a specific idea: what is rationality? In order to do this, he takes a Western definition of the idea and applies it to a group that does things that we might consider definitively irrational. 2) He keeps a literary distance as well as (he says) an actual distance out of a respect for the privilege of his own position and to respect the differences that his informants care about.
But now that I've read it from beginning to end, I think his style leaves too much out and gives the reader far too little credit.
My favorite part? Definitely the Appendix involving women giving birth to cats. Because: AWESOME....more