Towards an Ethnography Commons

  • Eli Elinoff


How might the notion of an ethnography commons transform ethnographic research practice and pedagogy? In this paper, I consider how the concept of the commons, in all of its messiness, might provide a way of not only addressing questions surrounding the boundaries of ethnographic research and knowledge that have been fundamental to anthropology since Writing Culture (Clifford and Marcus 1986), but also for crafting more transformative research and social interventions into the world itself. I do so first by considering how contemporary structures of capitalism are shaping the university, our research, and our relationships with our students. Then, I trace the ways in which the debates about the boundaries of ethnography have transformed research and pedagogy over the last 20 years. Finally, I conclude by suggesting a number of potential trajectories for acting on the promise of the commons through ethnographic teaching and research.


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How to Cite
ELINOFF, Eli. Towards an Ethnography Commons. Commoning Ethnography, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 72-81, dec. 2017. ISSN 2537-9879. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 11 aug. 2020. doi:
Special Section: Debating the Commons in Aotearoa