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In this extended meditation, Jean Lave interweaves analysis of the process of apprenticeship among the Vai and Gola tailors of Liberia with reflections on the evolution of her research on those tailors in the late 1970s. In so doing, she provides both a detailed account of her apprenticeship in the art of sustained fieldwork and an insightful overview of thirty years of changes in the empirical and theoretical facets of ethnographic practice. Examining the issues she confronted in her own work, Lave shows how the critical questions raised by ethnographic research erode conventional assumptions, altering the direction of the work that follows.
As ethnography takes on increasing significance to an ever widening field of thinkers on topics from education to ecology, this erudite but accessible book will be essential to anyone tackling the question of what it means to undertake critical and conceptually challenging fieldwork. Apprenticeship in Critical Ethnographic Practice explains how to seriously explore what it means to be human in a complex world—and why it is so important.