With the ‘cultural turn’, the concept of culture has assumed enormous importance in our understanding of the interrelations between social, political, and economic structures, patterns of everyday interaction, and systems of meaning-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis, the leading figures in their fields explore the implications of this paradigm shift. Addressed to academics and advanced students in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, this Handbook is at once a synthesis of advances in the field, with a comprehensive coverage of the scholarly literature, and a collection of original and provocative essays by some of the brightest intellectuals of our time.
When anthropologists are asked to contribute a chapter on ethnography to a Handbook for Cultural Analysis one expects them to do just that: deliver something that is ‘handy’, concise, and solid enough to be of practical use. We aspire to conciseness and solidity but we would have to be mindless or deceitful if we gave the impression that what anthropologists know about ethnography can be packaged for easy consumption by others. At the same time it is impossible to write about ethnography and ignore the currency or, one might argue, the rampant inflation of the term. Trying to cover ethnography ‘at large’ would be a hopeless undertaking (even if we disregard, as we shall, ‘qualitative research’, a frequent synonym for ethnography).1 In sum, the ...