Afterword: Political Ethnography as Art and Science
Adam Ashforth has written one of the recent political ethnographies I most admire. His Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa draws on a total of about 3 years’ residence during the 1990s in Soweto (South West Township), an Apartheid-built black suburb of Johannesburg, plus subsequent visits to his adopted family and friends there. Earlier, Ashforth wrote an impressive historical analysis of the process by which Apartheid took shape (Ashforth 1990). But preparation for his book on witchcraft, violence, and democracy plunged him shoulder-deep into ethnography. Through first-hand observation, personal intervention, and incessant interrogation of his acquaintances, Ashforth built up a powerful picture of coping, strife, and hope amid vicious violence. Ashforth’s ethnographic involvement forced him to abandon many a preconceived category and explanation of struggle during and after Apartheid.
KeywordsClinical Artist Adopted Family Contentious Politics Social Movement Group Everyday Politics
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