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The Edges and the End: On Stopping an Ethnographic Project, On Losing the Way

The Lost Ethnographies: Methodological Insights from Projects that Never Were

ISBN: 978-1-78714-774-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-773-7

ISSN: 1042-3192

Publication date: 7 January 2019

Abstract

At the end of a project (if we know it is the end or if we are forced to end it), the ethnographer is faced with the choice to leave (or leave off researching) – a decision that may entail grief and relief – or to continue. In this chapter, the author argues that all ethnographies are lost ethnographies because there are inevitably missed moments, things we turn away from and endings of various kinds. The author suggests that ‘getting lost’ (Lather) and being lost (and at a loss) may be a necessity of ethnographic fieldwork. Drawing examples from the author’s own and others’ work, the author reflects on the edges and the end of ethnographic projects and considers what it might mean to let go, to end research projects, as well as what might be possible by returning.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

This work was made possible by my Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, funded by Te Aparangi, The Royal Society of New Zealand. I want to thank the editors and reviewers for their thoughtful and helpful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.

Citation

Fitzpatrick, K. (2019), "The Edges and the End: On Stopping an Ethnographic Project, On Losing the Way", Smith, R.J. and Delamont, S. (Ed.) The Lost Ethnographies: Methodological Insights from Projects that Never Were (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 17), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 165-175. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1042-319220190000017004

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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