Skip to content

Ethnographic Sense: Composing the Contemporary

Please register here for this event.

Ethnographic Sense: Composing the Contemporary
Friday, April 9, 2021, 2:00-3:30 PM (Eastern Time)

What does it mean to write from the inside of our current condition—a global pandemic that has kept us home for a year, even as events unfold across the nation and the globe. How can we “make something” of the present, when conditions for doing ethnography have fundamentally changed?

Carole McGranahan is a cultural anthropologist and historian specializing in contemporary Tibet and the USA. Her research focuses on issues of colonialism and empire, history and memory, power and politics, refugees and citizenship, gender, war, nationalism, senses of belonging, and ethnography as method, theory, and writing. She is author of Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Histories of a Forgotten War (Duke University Press, 2010), and editor of Imperial Formations (2007, co-edited with Ann Stoler and Peter Perdue), Ethnographies of U.S. Empire (2018, co-edited with John Collins), Flash Ethnography (co-edited with Nomi Stone, 2020), and Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment (2020, Duke University Press). Currently, she is finishing a decade of research in France, India, Nepal, New York City, Switzerland, and Toronto titled “Refugee Citizenship: Asylum, Refusal, and Political Subjectivity in the Tibetan Diaspora.” During the pandemic, her writing has been alternatively halted and energized, including work on an in-progress book manuscript Theoretical Storytelling: Ethnography as a Way of Knowing.

Marina Peterson is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work traces modalities of matter, sensory attunements, and emergent socialities, exploring diverse and innovative ways of encountering and presenting the ethnographic. Her recently published book, Atmospheric Noise: The Indefinite Urbanism of Los Angeles (2021, Duke UP), engages mobilizations around airport noise to address ways in which noise amplifies modes of sensing and making sense of the atmospheric. She is the author of Sound, Space, and the City: Civic Performance in Downtown Los Angeles (2010, UPenn Press) and co-editor of Global Downtowns (with Gary McDonogh, 2012, UPenn Press), Anthropology of the Arts: A Reader (with Gretchen Bakke, 2016, Bloomsbury), and Between Matter and Method: Encounters in Anthropology and Art (with Gretchen Bakke, 2017, Bloomsbury). Her work has appeared in Anthropological Quarterly, Popular Music Studies, Postmodern Culture, Space and Culture, Social Text, and South Atlantic Quarterly.


  • McGranahan, Carole, ed. 2020. Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press [Introduction & Chapter 11].
  • Peterson, Marina. 2021. Atmospheric Noise: The Indefinite Urbanism of Los Angeles. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books [Introduction & Chapter 4].

Hosted by: Humanities Unbounded Ethnography Workshop

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *