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Ethnographic challenges and opportunities in language research


7th-9th September, 2006

Place BAAL Annual Meeting, University of Limerick
Focus Since moving out of its original base in anthropology and coming ‘home’ to the study of western societies, ethnography has taken a number of different forms, and has been variously viewed as a set of empirical methods, as a type of field experience, as a style of writing and analysis, and as an epistemological perspective. So what does ethnography mean right now to linguists and discourse analysts, and what are its problems and possibilities? In this colloquium, language and discourse researchers address this question by a) describing the theoretical, methodological and/or empirical elements in their own research that they consider to be ethnographic; b) discussing the manner and extent to which this ethnographic element has or hasn’t been able to reach parts that other methods couldn’t. And in the background, of course, there is a larger question. Exactly what does and doesn’t count as ethnography in language research? More generally the diversification of ethnography has generated a range of disputes about the boundaries that do or don’t distinguish it from situated intuition, action research, cultural analysis, and simply qualitative work (Hammersley 1992; Bloome & Green 1997; Willis & Trondman 2000). How do these issues appear from the vantage point of language and discourse analysis?

Francesca Bargiela, Liminal (linguistic) ethnography in the attempt to study segregated organisations.


Alexandra Georgakopoulou, In search of context in language research: The ethnographic advantage.


Jürgen Jaspers, Comments.


Theresa Lillis, Researching academic literacy as a social practice: Developing a text-oriented ethnography.


Celia Roberts, Dealing with large audio/video data sets ethnographically: Beyond pick'n'mix?

Frances Rock, Ethnography and forensic linguistics.