week_2_warren - Qualitative Sociology Vol 23 No 2 2000...

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Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2000 Writing the Other, Inscribing the Self Carol A. B. Warren (with Debora Archer, Beverly Broderick, Sara Collas, Debra Dobbs, Gloria Flores, Robert Futrell, Laurie Grow, Jennifer Hackney, Tracy X. Karner, Douglas Kivett, Richard Johnson, Lourdes Pereira-Nunez, Erin Reilly, and Christine Robinson) This research is concerned with fieldnotes as they form the building blocks of ethnography, at the representational intersection of self and other. Using field- notes generated by graduate students, we explore their dialectics of revelation and concealment, publicity and privacy, and awareness and unawareness, in the context of disciplinary politics. KEY WORDS: other; self; fieldnotes. Fieldnotes, the subject of some recent scholarly interest in sociology (Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw 1995) and anthropology (Sanjek 1990a) are the means by which fieldworkers come to grips with the other, the data of their ethnographies. Although there is some sentiment for writing ethnography without fieldnotes (see Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw 1995), much of the pedagogy of ethnography stresses this task as the foundation of thick description and analytic adequacy. This paper is concerned with fieldnotes as they inscribe the self while writing the other. We bring together the themes of self-reflexivity in ethnographic work—the dialogue of self and other—with that of writing fieldnotes. Since the 1970s with the work of Gusfield (1976) in sociology, and the 1980s with the work of Clifford and Marcus (1986) in anthropology, ethnography has been centrally concerned with the issue of representation. And fieldnotes are the initial moment of representation, when other, in a sense, becomes self. Fieldnotes, as the bedrock of ethnography, seem, at first glance, to epito- mize the “lone wolf” approach to social research. As Sanjek notes, “fieldnotes are written, usually, for an audience of one. . . . they are . . . aides-memoires that Direct correspondence to Carol A. B. Warren, Department of Sociology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66047 ([email protected]). 183 C 2000 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
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184 Warren stimulate the re-creation, the renewal, of things past’” (1990a, p. 92). They may be written “in the field” as the interaction unfolds, or elsewhere, where they are notes “of” but not “in” the field. Fieldnote writing is inscribed as a series of stages, beginning with scratch or jotted notes, progressing to analytic notes, and ending with full-fledged typed, backed-up narrative fieldnotes (Sanjek 1990c, p. 97)—or as degrees of cooked-ness, “never raw” (Clifford 1990, p. 51). However, fieldnotes may also be read by others (or requested by others) as a part of legal proceedings—unanticipated sharing. Van Maanen (1983, p. 282) describes the 1970 “Blazier incident” of alleged police brutality, in which he successfully protected the contents of his fieldnotes “on the feeble grounds of ‘research confidentiality’” while his published papers were read into the record.
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