07.11.2022 Ethnographische Methoden in der Politikwissenschaft

Meeting of the DVPW Working Group in Marburg

Photo: Johanna Kocks

On the 03rd and 04th of November, the DVPW working group “Ethnographische Methoden in der Politikwissenschaft” and the Center for Conflict Studies at the University of Marburg organized a workshop on “Critical Ethnography”. A central concern in political ethnography lies in the relationship between ethnographic research practice and modes of critical and normative politics. Notions of critique in political ethnography can relate to the decisions of what and whom we research, how we understand and represent our objects of research, and how we navigate questions of reflexivity and positionality in our research process. Furthermore, ethnographic research can have the potential to address forms of social injustice and inequalities and develop forms of ‘grounded critique’ that aim at contributing to changing these conditions toward greater equity and equality.

The goal of the workshop was to dive deeper into the different notions of critique in relation to ethnography in a collaborative manner.

On Thursday, Katarina Kušić, post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies at the University of Bremen, and Kristina Eggeling, assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, offered their perspectives on critical ethnography. Kristina Eggeling outlined several practical approaches to Critical Ethnography, highlighting the importance of self-reflexivity, epistemic humbleness and an awareness with regard to what remains hidden. She referred specific styles of writing ethnographic pieces and how the language we use might render actors and processes inherent to our research invisible. Katarina Kušić offered important starting points by, firstly, distinguishing between ethnography as a method or as a methodology with specific epistemic and ontological understanding. Secondly, she instigated a self-reflective questioning on the normative and affective dimensions of our work. In particular, she asked: Who or what cause is served by our ethnographic practice?

On Friday, the discussions were enriched by contributions from Lena Merkle (University Magdeburg), Stefan C. Aykut (University Hamburg) and Lisa Doppler (Justus-Liebig-University Gießen) who presented examples for critical practice. Lena Merkle addressed hegemony and power in remote ethnographies, Stefan C. Aykut presented insights into collaborative event ethnography as a method to analyze global coordination in practice with the example of climate summit observations, and Lisa Doppler shared her experience of discussing Critical Theory with activists.

The final session served as an opportunity for discussing future activities of the working group. The organizer’s proposition to collaborate on a joint publication on critical ethnography was welcomed.

The working group will hold further events in 2023. If you are interested to join, please send an email to .