As the popularity of ethnographic research methods grows across and beyond the social sciences, it is of paramount importance that practitioners reflect on how to best teach participant observation to increasingly diverse and interdisciplinary audiences. While available literature stresses the importance of learning-by-doing to develop students’ ethnographic sensibility, I argue that these techniques neglect the development of students’ ethnographic imagination, which is necessary to prepare first-time fieldworkers to face the unpredictability of research. To remedy this training shortcoming, I then propose that we turn to reading ethnographies in the classroom as a collective, critical and participative practice that can help students picture ‘what really happens’ during fieldwork, inspire their research design, and prepare them for the unpredictability of participant observation.
Stefanelli, A. (in press). Reading ethnography in the classroom: complementary methods to develop students’ ethnographic imagination. Learning and Teaching,