I'll flesh out Informal Ethnographer as time goes on, but let's get a few things out of the way, ASAP. Think of it as an FAQ (though no question has been asked).
my main blog, especially in the About section of that blog. You can also search for "Enkerli" just about anywhere online. My last name is quite rare and, with very few exceptions, any content with that name has to do with me.
For the past little while, I've been defining myself as a semi-nomadic French-speaking ethnographer from Montreal.
I'm also into:
One reason I like the term "ethnographer" so much is that it brings together most things I've been doing.
I'm an anthropologist specialized in linguistic, cultural, musical, symbolic, and social dimensions of the field. All these specializations can be described as "ethnographic." I also teach a number of things: linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, ethnomusicology, symbolic anthropology, sociology, folkloristics, African studies, the anthropology of religion, and material culture. With all of these, I use an ethnographic approach. So, I feel pretty comfortable calling myself an "ethnographer." I do ethnography, I teach it, and I think about it in different contexts.
Something I like about "ethnographer" instead of "anthropologist" is that it's both more precise and less restrictive. I hold two degrees in anthropology (bachelor's and master's, both from Université de Montréal), but I've worked outside of anthropology. At the same time, I don't do much that has to do with archæology or human biology, which are important dimensions of anthropology as an academic discipline in North American.
What's very cool about the term "ethnographer" in my case is that it's now my official title. I started signing contracts in which I'm described as a "freelance ethnographer." I think it's very fitting.
Besides, some people think that calling yourself an "anthropologist" is presumptuous since they see anthropology as something floating above the work we do. It'd be like a physicist calling herself a "philosopher" because she has a "Ph.D." or a hospital attendant calling himself a "health specialist" because his work has to do with health. I don't necessarily agree with that view, and "anthropologist" is used by most people who have at least a graduate degree in anthropology. But it's interesting to think about.
From experience, I could also say that "anthropologist" is often more confusing than anything else. If I don't get a blank look when I mention "anthropology," I get cautious: people who think they know what anthropology is often mistake it for something else. It's actually a big problem.
With "ethnographer," I get more blank looks, which is actually a good thing because it allows me to define what I do.
Which brings me to the obvious question:
One purpose of this site is to clear up some possible confusion about ethnography.
As is often the case with just about any term, "ethnography" has different meanings for different people. At the same time, there's enough in common in different definitions that, sometimes, the distinctions aren't so clear.
Here's my own working definition (drumroll...):
Ethnography is a descriptive approach to cultural diversity.
Taking this definition apart:
One thing which might be kinda clear, by this point, is that I'm not very formal in the way I write, here. Sure, it probably doesn't sound as informal as if we were having a conversation in a café or a pub. But it's a far cry from a peer-reviewed academic journal, a report for a major corporation, or even an article in a mainstream newspaper. I've been using a more informal style because it fits. At the same time, I'm not trying to do anything too "cute" or fake. I'm just writing in a way that makes sense to me.
Which has a lot to do with the kind of guy I am. I don't think I'm fussy or stuffy about pretty much anything. I like to be casual in just about everything I do. This site is a part of that: I want to be myself.
Besides, this site is meant as social media and social media stuff is usually pretty informal. There are some people who complain but the way normal people (as opposed to, say, news organizations) write things online can be found in different styles, from l33tspeak to lolspeak. I probably won't use IMspeak here, but that's mostly because I don't do much IM.
This site is also informal in that it's not supposed to be academic. I have formal training in academic disciplines and I've been teaching in a number of universities, but this isn't a university site. It's my own personal site about something I love.
Moreover, I'm not doing any formal research that I will make public, here. Ethnographic projects in which I may be involved are in the background, but I don't wish to talk about them on this site, partly because it can get tricky in terms of confidentiality. There are ways to solve these issues, but I don't feel like dealing with those issues too directly.
In other words, this site and any of its content aren't meant to be reliable, valid, vetted, or even that serious.
Still, I want Informal Ethnographer to have a few things:
You can also find me on Identi.ca and on Twitter.