From an anthropological perspective, (educational) ethnography is much more than just a method in terms of a set of techniques but a way of taking a place in and grasping the world that ethnographers aim to represent and comprehend. With an imperative of “being there,” the ethnographer travels to specific locations to establish some form of physical presence in the field site. The idea of “location,” therefore, is central to educational ethnography in several ways. Research on education among different categories of people in Nepal, and a vast body of ethnographic literature on education around the world, demonstrates the centrality of “location” in anthropological knowledge production. This article discusses “location” as a conceptual category in order to explore the different analytical levels at which it operates in anthropological knowledge production on education. It does so in three different ways. First, ethnographers’ locations in the field—their biographical trajectories, academic backgrounds, and social positions—lay the ground for the ways in which ethnographers ‘see’ education in the field. Second, the historical context and sociopolitical developments of specific geographic locations, in this case Nepal, draw attention to ways in which existing societal concerns foster particular research interests on education and consequently shape knowledge about a given geographical location. Third, conducting ethnographic fieldwork in a variety of spatial sites within and beyond institutions of schooling allows ethnographers to explore the multiple and often conflicting meanings of education. This awareness on the multiplicity of ethnographic locations in educational ethnography promises to deepen our understanding of education, broadly defined, through a rigorous and highly contextualized inquiry that highlights multiple and contested voices and presents subjective modes of perceiving reality.
Uma Pradhan and Karen Valentin
Maria Rosa Neufeld
In Argentina, the field of anthropology and education encompasses numerous researchers primarily based in national universities. Ties to the research team that founded the field, directed by Elsie Rockwell in Mexico, remain strong. Research based principally in the national universities of Rosario, Buenos Aires, and Córdoba is responsible for an important part of the work in this field, although not all of it, and these locations integrate the network of researchers in this field. These researchers share an interest in the issues raised by approaching education as a right and they define themselves through what some call a “socio-anthropological” approach and others call “historical ethnography.” This theoretical and methodological focus aims to produce knowledge about the social world by putting fieldwork in conversation with theoretical reflection. This includes an understanding of the conflictive nature of social relationships, the historicity caught in the fabric of everyday events, denaturalization, and reflections on the engagement of researchers on doing fieldwork. At the same time, researchers adopt a perspective called “relational,” which aims to link different dimensions of the problem in question and approach them as articulated.