Reconceptualizing Research: Ethnographic Fieldwork and Immigration Politics in Southern California

  • Susan Bibler Coutin


With the publication of Argonauts of the Western Pacific in 1922, Bronislaw Malinowski set the standards for ethnographic research for decades to come. His advice to ethnographers was straightforward. Know the natives. Live among them. Adopt their point of view. Learn their language. Spend a long time in the field. Take copious fieldnotes. Locate and interview key informants. Produce data-driven accounts. While the authoritativeness of ethnographic texts has recently been questioned1 and while most anthropologists no longer regard their research subjects as “natives,” these fieldwork practices remain central to ethnographic research on legal and other topics.


Community Organization Identity Politics Critical Race Theory Legalization Applicant Legal Category 
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© June Starr and Mark Goodale 2002

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  • Susan Bibler Coutin

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