The Yale Ethnography Hub is a network of ethnographers at Yale who are committed to anti-racist, anti-colonial, feminist, and queer epistemologies and to promoting grounded, comparative, transregional approaches to knowledge production and social commitments. We support public-facing programming that is socially responsive. In its early years, the collective organized symposia, conferences, and workshops centering on “Reproductive Justice in Ethnographic Perspective” (2022-2023) and “Research & the Temporalities of War” (2023-2024), responding to the 2022 US Supreme Court Dobbs decision that invalidated abortion as a constitutional right and to the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War (2003 and on), respectively.
The collaborative takes a multi-layered approach to mentorship and pedagogy. We bring together senior and junior faculty, as well as graduate students (through the Graduate Student Fellowship) in co-directing and co-organizing an array of events. At the undergraduate level, we work with other units throughout the university to run the newly established Yale College Certificate in Ethnography, which reflects the notable surge in students completing senior essays that incorporate independent ethnographic research.
The Yale Ethnography Hub began with a set of informal conversations in late 2021 in response to an increased interest in the field of ethnography among our graduate students and faculty colleagues outside of the Department of Anthropology. Ethnographers in American Studies, Ethnicity, Race & Migration (ER&M), and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (WGSS)—initially Zareena Grewal, Eda Pepi, Ana Ramos-Zayas, Kalindi Vora and, later, Madiha Tahir—articulated the need for a space to discuss and develop innovative approaches to ethnography that reflect the diverse intellectual and social justice traditions at Yale. While other universities have similar initiatives, our ethnographic collective is unique in its focus on interdisciplinarity as a key point of departure for the experimental, collaborative, and social justice potential of ethnographic inquiry.
In Fall 2021, these conversations coalesced around two main goals: to promote ethnographic and empirical literacy outside of the social sciences and to transform disciplines like anthropology and sociology from their margins, with a focus on anti-racist, feminist, and queer approaches. A university-wide conversation with ethnographers at Yale in December 2021 confirmed significant interest in an interdisciplinary ethnography hub.
In its inaugural year, the 2022-2023 academic year, the hub was housed within the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, the administrative home of Eda Pepi and Kalindi Vora, the two faculty members who served as inaugural co-directors. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the hub has moved to Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and American Studies, and will be led by co-directors Zareena Grewal and Madiha Tahir.
The founding of the Yale Ethnography Hub was made possible by the financial, administrative, and intellectual support of the Department of Anthropology, Ethnicity, Race & Migration, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the Dean of Graduate Education Fund for Colloquia and Symposia, the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies.