THE PODCAST

In the service of our larger goal of curating conversations around ethnography, we are proud to partner with New Books Network to bring to you the Ethnographic Marginalia podcast. Each episode features an ethnographer. We discuss not the theoretical and conceptual innovation their ethnographic research made possible but the messy pleasures and tricky feelings of ethnographic practice in and of itself.

This podcast is co-sponsored by the Ethnography Incubator at the University of Chicago as well as The Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Conversations.

Community.

9 November 2021

Episode 14

Doing an Ethnography of Policing: in conversation with Dr. Sarah Brayne

How has the use of big data and algorithms changed policing and police surveillance? On this episode, we speak with Dr. Sarah Brayne, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, about her new book, Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing (Oxford UP, 2020). She explains how an interest in mass incarceration led her to study police surveillance and eventually do ethnographic research with the LAPD. She describes how her gender and status as potential “pencil geek” affected how police officers responded to her, and how officers themselves had mixed responses to the use of big data and algorithms in policing. She then talks about her ongoing relationships with research participants and the most impactful experiences in her fieldwork with police that didn’t make her book: the sadness of repeatedly dealing with people who are having the worst days of their life.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


16 July 2021

Episode 13

Talking Violence, Gender, and Policing in Colombia with Dr. Jon Gordon

In today’s interview, we speak with Dr. Jon Gordon, incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University, who tells us about his research with criminalized men in an armed group in a marginal neighborhood in Medellín, Colombia. Jon tells us how his experiences as a teacher in both Chicago and Medellín got him interested in studying gangs and violence. He explains how doing 45 months of fieldwork allowed him to track changes in the group he studied and talks about the value—and marginalization—of long-term ethnographic fieldwork. He also reflects on how he dealt with the psychological toll of witnessing violence, and how the men he studied subverted traditional gender roles in surprising ways. Finally, he describes what happened when his mother and partner entered his field site, and the ethnographic importance of a bologna sandwich.

Learn more about Dr. Gordon’s research here.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


28 June 2021

Episode 12

Talking Digital Ethnography and Netnography with Dr. Marta-Marika Urbanik

As our research subjects increasingly live their social lives on and through virtual platforms, how can ethnographers incorporate digital methods into our research? On this episode we speak with Dr. Marta-Marika Urbanik, Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta, who has written extensively about integrating social media ethnography into her research on Toronto street gangs, including a fascinating article in Qualitative Sociology with Robert A. Roks entitled “GangstaLife: Fusing Urban Ethnography with Netnography in Gang Studies”. Marta explains how she began engaging in digital ethnography after seeing the importance of social media to her participants’ lives and rivalries. She also talks about the choices digital ethnographers make between silently observing as if through a “One Way Mirror” or openly participating and sharing their own lives through the “Glass Window” approach. She describes some of the dilemmas and issues she faced by sharing her personal social media with participants. Finally, she discusses some of the ethical issues raised by digital ethnography, including the question of what constitutes informed consent.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


10 June 2021

Episode 11: Talking Ethnographic Fiction with Alexandros Plasatis

What does ethnography look like when presented as fiction? In this episode, we talk with Alexandros Plasatis, author of the new book Made by Sea and Wood, in Darkness (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021) a linked book of short stories based on the lives of Egyptian immigrant fishermen and other marginalized residents of a Greek town. Alexandros describes the fieldwork he conducted as a waiter in his family’s all-night café with a diverse clientele before explaining how and why he transitioned from studying anthropology to creative writing. He tells us how his fieldwork provided the basis for his novel, drawing on his conversations and experiences with the café’s clients to write semi-fictional stories that ring true. Finally, he describes how he uses writing to work with immigrant communities in England, including “the other side of hope”, a new print and online literary magazine dedicated to the stories of immigrants and refugees. Read an excerpt from Alexandros’ book here.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


25 April 2021

Episode 10: In Conversation with Dr. Tahseen Shams

How are immigrants’ lives shaped by cultural and political dynamics in their homeland, hostland, and “elsewhere” countries whose geopolitical dynamics affect their experiences (such as South Asian Muslims who are affected by post-9/11 and more recent backlash against Middle Eastern nations)? In today’s podcast, we talk with Tahseen Shams, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto-St.George and author of Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized WorldTahseen talks about how her own background as a Bangladeshi immigrant to Mississippi inspired her to become an ethnographer, and how her positionality affected her research with other South Asian Immigrants. She describes how she used content analysis of Facebook to overcome her own effect on interviewees and some of the difficulties she had in managing relationships with her participants. Also, in a fascinating discussion of how her female research participants navigated contrasting identity categories of “Good Muslim” and “Moderate Muslim”, she reflects on what she learned from the tensions between what they said in interviews and what she observed them doing. Finally, Tahseen talks about finding inspiration in reading novels and her new research project on inter-ethnic relationships.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


8 April 2021

Episode 9: In Conversation with Dr. Victoria Reyes and Dr. Marco Garrido

How can Sociology be nudged away from its traditional parochialism to embrace empirical work that focuses on the global south? Marco Garrido (assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago) and Victoria Reyes (assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside) are the editors of a recent special issue of Contexts magazine, New Ethnographies of the Global South, that brings together scholars doing fieldwork outside of the US and Europe. Marco and Victoria tell us about how they came to do ethnographic research on the Philippines and describe how the special issue emerged as part of a broader shift towards studying the Global South. We also talk with them about why and how there are pressures against overseas scholarship from within graduate programs and academic journals, how Global South ethnographers must translate their work for US audiences, and how younger scholars can pursue their interests while also positioning themselves for success.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


17 March 2021

Episode 8: In Conversation with Dr. Leslie MacColman

This episode of Ethnographic Marginalia features Dr. Leslie MacColman, a Postdoctoral Scholar in Sociology at The Ohio State University who studies crime and policing in Latin America. Leslie explains how extensive experiences with civil society organizations inspired her move to academia while continuing to inform her research. She then describes research on police reform in Buenos Aires and how a project that centered police experiences grew to include government officials, activists, sex workers, and homeless teens. Leslie tells us how her identity as an American woman affected the way her participants related to her, and how her responsibilities as a mother affected the kind of fieldwork she could do. Finally, she reflects on how recent calls for police reform in the US have affected how her own research is understood.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


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