“Ethnography” literally means “writing” (graphy) about the culture of a group of people in their particularity (ethno). The term became attached to the discipline of anthropology in the early 1900s, and refers both to a method for research and an outcome of research. The ethnographic method is characteristically empirical, interpersonal, predominantly qualitative, and holistic (e.g., Peña 1997; Burawoy 1982). Once closely aligned with anthropology, the term is now used to describe qualitative research in many disciplines. In general, it aims for in-depth description and analysis, “thick description,” in Clifford Geertz’s memorable phrase (1973). An ethnography (as outcome) offers an account of a way of life. The most inspiring ethnographies bring readers into the experience of life within a world of meaning, generating empathy as well as understanding, and raising questions as well as answering them. Questions of who we are as humans are given breadth and depth through ethnography, causing us not only to reflect upon humanity but increasingly to consider our entanglements within the nonhuman world. Once the domain strictly of inquiry into humanity, “a new genre of research and writing” is, in Eben Kirksey’s bold words, currently taking form as “multispecies ethnography” (2010, 545).

This essay may be found on page 110 of the printed volume.

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