How to write an ethnographic essay

Humboldt University of Berlin - Institute for European Ethnology

All doctoral candidates at the institute are invited to discuss ethnographic writing theoretically and practically in three sessions - on January 9th, 10th and January 29th, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can find more information about the workshop below.

Participation requirements:

  • Participation in all three workshop days
  • Your own written field research material (e.g. field diary notes) is available
  • Willingness for individual preparation and for reading and writing exercises between work meetings

The number of participants is limited to 12, so please register by email by November 30th. at Frederike Faust.

additional Information

"Methods workshop for ethnographic writing"

Dr. Ulrike A. Richter, Dr. Almut S├╝lzle

Content and learning objectives:
Ethnographies describe worlds and cultures. The term 'ethnography' already indicates the relevance of writing. This is exactly what we are dealing with in the workshop. On the basis of selected published essays and texts that participants contribute, we make the cognitive process from the participant observation to the text transparent and understandable in many small exercises. Because it is essential for one's own ethnographic work to learn how subjective approaches can be converted into a successful, dense description.

We will investigate the following questions: What are ethnographic texts on? What is good ethnographic writing? How do field diary notes become publishable texts? In what way does the field researcher inscribe himself in the text? How can this be reflected and described scientifically? How do gender relations find their way into ethnography and how can gender be represented in a meaningful way?

The workshop

  • reconstructs work processes of field researchers and reflects the research attitude as well as methodological and methodological problems of ethnographic research,
  • guides the participants to produce ethnographic texts themselves,
  • illuminates the processes of data interpretation such as text production,
  • offers exercises and introductions to different methods of research reflection (field research supervision, peer-to-peer comparisons, self-questioning, field diaries)

Temporal structure:

  • three workshop days of 5 hours each; two consecutive days, one day approx. 2 weeks after part 1
  • Day 1: Quality and styles of ethnographic writing
  • Day 2: From observation to dense description, theory and practice of reflective ethnography (with exercises)
  • Day 3: Writing and rewriting, style and criticism exercises