A Long-Neglected Mother of Contemporary Ethnography: Annie Marion MacLean and the Memory of a Method
- ISSN: 08912416
- DOI: 10.1177/0891241607303584
As ethnographers look forward, we risk losing sight of the past. Short memories are common, and most sociologists have a certain "amnesia" (Gans 1992). Sometimes old scholarship is best forgotten, but this is not always the case. We argue that the neglected ethnographic work of Annie Marion MacLean- who was writing at the turn of the last century-deserves our attention despite its age. To the extent that contemporary ethnography has a metaphorical "genetic code" in common, MacLean's work has these traits, and we argue that her work speaks to contemporary concerns: it gives us perspective on the realist-postmodernist debate, it demonstrates the challenges of ethnography as a career and how it can change over the life-course, and it forces us to reflect on our short scholarly recall. Much can be learned from MacLean and other relevant but neglected ethnographers. Failing to engage these works stunts our ethnographic growth.