Ethnographic research and reflexivity in development contexts
Weight of the course
Course Leader
Teaching Methods
Roy Huijsmans
Roy Huijsmans
Participatory Lectures, workshops
Assignments 100%
Tanya Kingdon
Learning objectives
Through this course, students will develop a reflexive attitude about the workings of power in
ethnographic research and in relation to a series of epistemological debates and pragmatic
choices. In addition, the course will equip students with skills, knowledge and confidence to
design, conduct and evaluate ethnographic research in the context of development.
Course description
The course deals with a number of issues central to ethnographic research in the context of
development, divided over the following four blocks:
 Block 1 ‘Situating ethnographic research’ deals with the history and politics of
ethnographic knowledge in the field of development and covers key epistemological
debates underpinning ethnography.
 Block 2 ‘Conducting ethnographic research’ deals with techniques and dilemmas in
the field, including methods, ethics, positionality, gate-keepers, etc.
 Block 3 ‘Interpreting ethnographic observations’ deals with processing, analysis and
interpretation of ethnographic material.
 Block 4 ‘Evaluating ethnographic research’ requires students to critically reflect on
the usage, scope and limitations of ethnography in published work in development
Participatory lectures, audio-visual materials and small-group discussion and (research) activities
are used to stimulate reflexivity and to offer scope to relate the epistemological and
methodological issues addressed to students’ individual RP plans.
Indicative readings
Falzon, M.-A., Ed. (2009). Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory, praxis and locality in contemporary
research. Surrey, Burlington: Ashgate.
Ferguson, J. (1999). Expectations of Modernity: Myths and meanings of urban life on the
Zambian Copperbelt. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice (third edition).
London, New York: Routledge.
Salemink, O. (2003). The Ethnography of Vietnam's Central Highlanders: A historical
contextualization, 1850-1900. London: RoutledgeCurzon.