WHAT’S ETHNOGRAPHY?

We’re not going to succeed in defining ethnography in a nuanced way, even if this page scrolled forever. That said — suffice it to say that ethnography refers to a collection of participatory, descriptive and observation practices and methods used by anthropologists, cultural workers, folklorists, documentarians, and beyond to study the processes and practices of everyday life.

Key methods in ethnography include participant-observation, structured interviewing, and, in some cases, media documentation work. Ethnography usually, in best scenarios, involves long-term work and long-term commitments. An ethnographer may embed herself in the community she is working with for decades — sometimes forever.

Recent work in environmental ethnography has also pushed for multi-species approaches to ethnographic observation, tracking not only human behavior and expressive culture, but its entanglement and kinship with animal, plant and geologic life.

Growing Right combines ethnographic and oral history approaches to try to get at the larger life and circumstances of ecological food and farm movement participants in Ohio.

Our methods are particularly influenced by public folklife documentation practices — including an attention to performance events, cultural and environmental context, and a broad variety of genres of expressive culture: including material culture (what people make, build or do) customary traditions (what people believe or how they behave) alongside narrative (what people say).