Accepted Paper:

The interview and new challenges in teaching and learning anthropology  


Ian Fairweather (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

The current climate in higher education raises a number of challenges for anthropology as a discipline. The competition for resources, the possibility of higher student fees and the discussions about measuring ‘impact’ require us to think carefully about what a degree in anthropology offers to students, whilst maintaining the crucial link between research and teaching. There are opportunities too, however as 'global citizenship' and 'intercultural fluency' are increasingly valued as graduate attributes. This paper asks how pedagogical practices in anthropology can best address these new challenges and opportunities. In doing so, the paper reflects on whether the way we teach anthropology highlights the full range of possibilities for ethnography and the diversity of methods employed in different kinds of ethnographic encounters? At undergraduate level, in particular, there is often a disjuncture between an emphasis on fieldwork largely based on participant observation and recognizing the importance of studying up, researching institutions and corporations, or conducting multi sited research. Participant observation may be impractical or too limited as the core research method in many circumstances where the interview may be more appropriate. For practical reasons as well as ethical and safety considerations, third year undergraduate projects are often not based on participant observation. Many students do, however, conduct a limited number of interviews. Yet in spite of very useful explorations of the ethnographic interview in the literature, we tend to present interviewing as a secondary, supplementary method to Participant Observation. Can the discipline benefit from a pedagogy that recognizes the diversity of contexts in which ethnographic knowledge is produced?

Panel Plen4
Imagination, inspiration and the interview