De-Exoticizing Ghetto Poverty: On the Ethics of Representation in Urban Ethnography

To write an ethnography about poor urban people is to risk courting controversy.  While all ethnographers face questions about how well they knew their site or how much their stories can be trusted, the tone and content of those questions typically remain within the bounds of collegial discourse.  Ethnographers of poor minorities have incited distinct passion and at times acrimony, inspiring accusations of stereotyping, misrepresentation, sensationalism, and even cashing in on the problems of the poor . One thoughtful critique is the idea that outsider ethnographies have painted one-dimensional portrayals of poor black and Latino communities. Mario Luis Small, Harvard University.

Image courtesy of interviewee. May 2, 2017

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