Ethnography For All

I’ve always thought about the potential of research methods to serve communities, beyond academic purposes. I’ve always tried my best to co-conspire, act and attempt at delinking “research” processes to a purely intellectual endeavor. From another vantage point, I love bringing the methods that I’ve seen naturally recurring in community organizing into research processes: ideas of talk-story or kuwentuhan, community and trust building, democratizing information, actualizing communities’ “right to research” (Appadurai 2006).

It’s hard but I like the challenge.

This week an email came through my inbox from EPIC, an organization trying to bring principles of ethnography into industry. Sharon Bautista, UX researcher and community organizer based in Chicago, wrote a book review of The Labor of Care (2018) and Kimberly Kay Hoang’s Dealing in Desire (2015) to make sense of the recent shootings in Atlanta that claimed the lives of 6 Asian American and Asian immigrant women.

Bautista’s thoughtful engagement with the two ethnographic books in “Ethnography for Sensemaking in Times of Trauma” helped me see that ethnography and qualitative methods can go far beyond the academy. And her reflection gave me some hope that writing The Labor of Care and possibly, my next book will not just be left in the halls of classrooms or conferences. Perhaps it has a wider audience that can help them make sense of the world.

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