Dialogues with Ethnography: Notes on Classics, and How I Read Them

Author: Jan Blommaert

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This book persuasively argues the case that ethnography must be viewed as a full theoretical system, rather than just as a research method. Blommaert traces the influence of his reading of classic works about ethnography on his thinking, and discusses a range of authors who have influenced the development of a theoretical system of ethnography, or whose work might be productively used to develop it further. Authors examined include Hymes, Scollon, Kress, Bourdieu, Bakhtin and Lefebvre. This book will be required reading for students and scholars involved in ethnographic research, or those interested in the theory of ethnography.

Once again, Jan Blommaert advances the field of sociolinguistics in this indispensable collection of insightful and thought-provoking essays on the importance of ethnography in helping us make sense of language, culture, and society in our complex and fascinating world. Written in a clear and accessible style, this book will become essential reading for its intellectual rigor, scope and depth.

Christian W. Chun, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

Dialogue lies at the heart of Jan Blommaert's invitation to conceive of ethnography as epistemology. In this elegant collection Blommaert enters into intriguing dialogues with a number of foundational thinkers in ethnography and sociolinguistics. In engaging with the 'classics' as he calls them, he lays out his challenging vision of a sociolinguistics that takes inequality and voice as central problematics. This is scholarship at its best.

Catherine Kell, University of Cape Town, South Africa

This volume is packed with ideas, historical and contemporary, all made fresh through Jan Blommaert's insightful connections and lucid prose. Hymes, Kress, Bakhtin, Bourdieu, and many others are here together in a conversation about ethnography, what it is, and what it can do. A stunning homage to – and meditation on – Blommaert's intellectual heroes.

Betsy Rymes, University of Pennsylvania, USA

[This] collection offers an intellectually engaging and thought-provoking discussion of ethnography as theory. Through his clearly articulated analysis and reflection, Blommaert provides the reader with a more accessible reading of the foundational works in the field of sociolinguistics [...] 'Dialogues with Ethnography' is a welcome addition to the field of sociolinguistic ethnography, and a must-have for experienced readers who take an avid theoretical interest in ethnography.

LINGUIST List 30.4050

Jan Blommaert is Professor in the Department of Culture Studies and Director of Babylon, Center for the Study of Superdiversity at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. He is the author of The Sociolinguistics of Globalization (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity (Multilingual Matters, 2013).



Chapter 1: Ethnography as Couter-Hegemony: Remarks on Epistemology and Method

Chapter 2: Obituary: Dell H. Hymes (1927-2009)

Chapter 3: Ethnography and Democracy: Hymes' Political Theory of Language

Chapter 4: Ethnopoetics as Functional Reconstruction: Dell Hymes' Narrative View of the World

Chapter 5: Grassroots Historiography and the Problem of Voice: Tshibumba's Histoire Du Zaïre

Chapter 6: Historical Bodies and Historical Space

Chapter 7: Semiotic and Spatial Scope: Towards a Materialist Semiotics

Chapter 8: Pierre Bourdieu and Language in Society

Chapter 9: Combining Surveys and Ethnographies in the Study of Rapid Social Change

Chapter 10: Data Sharing As Entextualization Practice

Chapter 11: Chronotopes, Scales and Complexity in the Study of Language in Society

Chapter 12: Marxism and Urban Culture

Chapter 13: On Scope and Depth in Linguistic Ethnography: A Commentary


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