Beyond Participant Observation
Collaborative Ethnography as Theoretical Innovation
The past decade has witnessed a growing interest in collaborative ethnographic methods in North America. Most recently, the Latin Amer- ican Studies Association introduced a new initiative, Other Americas/Otros Saberes, aimed at funding collaborative research between academics and Latin American indigenous or Afrodescendant orga-nizations.
A series of collaborative projects with indigenous and African American communities have demonstrated that collaboration is not only a moral choice for progressive ethnographers but a choice that makes for good ethnography (Field 2008; Lassiter et al. 2004; Ridington and Hastings 1997). The growing appeal of collaborative research has also been reﬂected in the pages of major anthropological journals (Castañeda 2006; Field 1999a; Lassiter 2005b); it is mirrored by a call for a “public anthropology” attentive to pressing public issues and written in a language accessible to an educated general public, and by a turn toward a politically engaged “activist anthropology” (Hale 2007, 104).
Collaborative ethnography has been deﬁned as
an approach to ethnography that
emphasizes collaboration at every point in the ethnographic process, without veiling it—from project conceptualization, to ﬁeldwork, and, especially, through the writing process. Collaborative ethnography invites commentary from our consultants and seeks to make that commentary overtly part of the ethnographic text as it develops. In turn, this negotiation is reintegrated back into the ﬁeldwork process itself. (Lassiter 2005a, 16)