chapter  5
12 Pages

WRITING ETHNOGRAPHY: FEMINIST CRITICAL PRACTICE

M Y F I R S T anthropological study began in the early 1960s when I chronicled the northbound movement of African Americans from rural Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana to Chicago-research that eventually led to the wr i t - ing of All Our Kin.1 Twenty years later, and back in the South, I watched daily the return of first-, second-, and third-generation urban dwellers following their own paths to rural southeastern homeplaces from midwestern and East Coast cities. I am currently completing a book about this dramatic return movement, Call to Home: African Americans Reclaim the Rural South.2 Using both memories and field notes for studies done nearly twenty years apart, I try in this paper to reconstruct the nature of my own comfort and conflict as an ethnographer in these two studies. In the context o f the politics and scholarship o f the times, I explore the nuances of doing and wri t ing ethnography as a white working-class woman. I do this by reconstructing two ethnographic projects, one from the 1960s and the second from the 1980s, from the per-

STACK spective of the present and looking backward. Dramatizing both writer and subject in the historical context, I attempt to engage in wri t ing culture as feminist critical practice.