The importance of ethnography to understand educational processes and related issues is being increasingly acknowledged beyond its disciplines. Access to schools ‘from the inside' (Woods, 1986) with the purpose to understand the complexity and the centrality that education has in people’s lives in a society self-regarded as knowledge-based is no longer considered to be trivial or anecdotal. On the contrary, the responsibility to generate deeper analysis capable to challenge the ‘test culture’ and the bureaucratization of education is more relevant today than ever. This includes the tension between the necessary and claimed reconciliation of research and politics, as well as the ability to keep the fragile balance between academia and activism, as Watson-Gegeo (2016) argues in A Commentary on Rosemary Henze's CAE Presidential Address.
Ethnography of education, which arises from the Anthropology of Education, has broken with old methodological and technical conventions, taking different approaches for the construction of new theories, from the ‘reflexive turn’ in the field to the experimental writing. Thus, Ethnography has renewed the value and the foundations of comparison, but also the commitment with the social return of research outcomes in the contemporary world.
The 4th International Conference of Ethnography and Education encourages participants to submit abstracts focusing on one of the three following strands:
1. Ethnographic inquiry before old and new research problems
The contributions for this theme are expected to address issues of ethnographic research related to the precariousness of the neoliberal socio-political context and its alternatives. Among other issues, the following topics are proposed: school mobility and stasis beyond the classic migration paradigm; educational trajectories, itineraries, and conditions of different social groups; ethnography of voluntary or forced school leaving, as well as the ideologies and practices of schooling resistance; cultural and identity effects in educational environments; learning in non-conventional environments, and their role in the social and identity construction of children and youths; ethnographic insight and the foundation/deconstruction of old and new educational indicators; new and old masks of reproduction and alternative/transformative resistances; social justice, normative voices and notions of civic responsibility in schools.
2. Ethnographic research and the assessment of education policy
The contributions for this theme should include ethnographic analyses about some of the following topics: the impact of education policies in a local, national, or global scale, as well as the role of these policies in the configuration of social models through educational systems; ethnographic studies of institutional and informal decision-making processes regarding the design and implementation of education policies; this is essential in the current trend to measuring results at the expense of education processes. It is of especial relevance the critical ethnographic exploration of the impacts of international agencies and NGOs promoting ‘education for development’, as well as their agendas and the debates these can generate.
3. Debates and methodological advances in ethnography of education
This strand will focus on the various types of education ethnography: critical ethnography, auto-ethnography, virtual ethnography, collaborative and participatory approaches, visual ethnography, comparative ethnography, performance ethnography or feminist ethnography, ethnography and art, or meta-ethnography, among others. The contributions to this strand will focus on some of the following issues: continuities between the ethnographic research methods and the building of knowledge in education; methodological borders, hybridizations and challenges during the research process; complementarity between ethnography and other approaches on educational research (mixed methods; multiple methods); experimentation with different forms of representation of ethnographic texts and other formats; new and old ethical dilemmas of ethnographic research.