Intimate ethnography and the anthropological imagination

Dialectical aspects of the personal and political in My Father's Wars
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by ALISSE WATERSTON

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Intimate ethnography is work of the anthropological imagination that models dialectical thinking in its approach to people, topics, and analysis. Rooted in particular intellectual, cultural, political, and anthropological currents, intimate ethnography comes when the need to engage larger publics in rethinking and recounting lives lived and experienced is increasingly urgent. An example of such work, My Father's Wars, centers an intimate Other as the subject of my research, a transnational life story in the context of historically constituted violence. Intimate ethnography illustrates feminist ethnography and illuminates the dangers of ethnonationalism; requires the crafting of an evocative, compelling account through the writing itself; and offers the possibility of an afterlife for anthropological work in the public sphere and thus of anthropology as an intervention in public discourse.

A Cuban passport issued to Miguel Wasersztein y Kromberg on August 21, 1936, when he was 23 years old. This beautifully rendered document represents one leg in my father's long transnational journey across a violent century. Inside its gold‐lettered, leather‐bound cover, there is a 12 × 10‐inch sheet of high‐quality paper, textured like fabric, folded into eighths to fit between the front and back cover. Material in this passport gives the names of Miguel's father as Ajzk, mother as Priwa, and his hometown as Jebwagne, Polonia, and it includes my father's signature and an incredibly beautiful photograph of him.
A Cuban passport issued to Miguel Wasersztein y Kromberg on August 21, 1936, when he was 23 years old. This beautifully rendered document represents one leg in my father's long transnational journey across a violent century. Inside its gold‐lettered, leather‐bound cover, there is a 12 × 10‐inch sheet of high‐quality paper, textured like fabric, folded into eighths to fit between the front and back cover. Material in this passport gives the names of Miguel's father as Ajzk, mother as Priwa, and his hometown as Jebwagne, Polonia, and it includes my father's signature and an incredibly beautiful photograph of him. (Alisse Waterston)