Field, Archive, Ethnography is a workshop oriented methods course. The mandate of this course is to equip sixth semester sociology students to work on their undergraduate thesis which they will be doing in their fourth year of B.A. Sociology. This course will work through an engaged reading of various kinds of ethnographies complemented by a hands-on methodological project that students will undertake within the physical space of the university. Theoretically, the course will work along deciphering and teasing out the difference between the three parallel axes of field, archive and ethnography. Asking questions of what constitutes a field and how do we construct or use an archive in the writing of an ethnography is the central thrust of the course.
Students trained in the field of sociology/anthropology fundamentally need to work with the idea of researching and thinking about events, phenomena and processes, placed within the immediate sphere of the known or located within the realm of the unfamiliar or the alien. In probing all such contexts, the eventual object that emerges is a combination of what one produces as an understanding of that context (ethnography) along with that which informs the production of this understanding (theory) and the ways in which one collates words, meaning and approaches (method) to begin the process of this understanding. The anthropological object is but a combination, whether in sync or in flux, of theory, method and ethnography or in other words a coming together of fieldwork, archive and ethnography. This course will work with these questions theoretically as well as through a workshop style pedagogy that enables them to read ethnographies methodologically and do a hands-on methodological intervention within the stipulated duration of the course.
The chief learning outcome of this course is to enable students of Sociology to understand how the discipline of sociology is but a combination of theory and method and how the doing of field work and working on and through an archive allows for the emergence of this elusive object called ethnography – the distinct marker of our discipline.