RUPC #5: The relevance of ethnography today

Marcus, George E. (2015) The relevance of ethnography today: is it still small?, beautiful?, critical?, possible?. Surpllus Pty Ltd in co-operation with the Research Unit in Public Cultures, The University of Melbourne, RUPC #5/Surpllus #13.5

The relevance of ethnography today
The relevance of ethnography today

Is it still small? beautiful? critical? possible?

What is the link between the little detail and the big pattern, or the connection between the building of structures over time and the movements across space? The answers to these fundamental questions take surprising and wondrous turns as we follow the trajectories outlined by George E. Marcus. The answers to these fundamental questions take surprising and wondrous turns as we follow the trajectories outlined by George E. Marcus.

He proceeds with one eye close to the ground, and the other looking ahead to the horizon. The vertical and the horizontal are not arranged with any neat symmetry. Sometimes he goes slow and hangs about. In other instances, there is a measured leap and willful embrace of the beyond. Either way there
is pleasure to be found in both the selection of sites and the crafting of elongated phrases to capture the nuance and the scope of things. If his scenes and sentences need a visual counterpart they can be compared to the texture of the skies and the presence of limbs in an El Greco painting. Perfect
in its context but not to be copied, not at least until another Picasso emerges.

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The relevance of ethnography today