Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education
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Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education

Edited by Sara Delamont

The Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education offers both basic and advanced discussions of data collection, analysis and representation of all the best qualitative methods used in educational research.
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Chapter 6: History and Ethnography: Interfaces and Juxtapositions

Maria Tamboukou


Maria Tamboukou What is our present today? How have we become what we are and what are the possibilities of ‘becoming other’? This question has triggered and underpinned my ongoing research on writing genealogies as ‘histories of the present’ (Foucault, 1975 [1991], p. 31). In doing this, my work has unfolded as an interface of historical and ethnographic inquiries. In this chapter, I look back in this body of work, tracing encounters between history and ethnography while framing them within the broader field of educational research. Historical and ethnographic inquiries are wide and complex fields in themselves that have drawn on a variety of research methods and approaches depending on the epistemological and theoretical traditions that underpin them. What both fields have in common, however, is a vibrant area of ‘critical studies’ that keep interrogating what history or ethnography can do.1 Researchers in educational studies have been particularly influenced by and contributed to this body of ‘critical studies’. As Sue Middleton2 has aptly put it: ‘the subject “Education” has always been theoretically promiscuous and my own research toolkit includes concepts, strategies, and techniques pulled from phenomenology, neo-Marxism, and feminism, as well as Foucauldian postructuralism’ (2003, p. 38). Foucault’s theories and analytical strategies have indeed been influential here, particularly in the way he has interrogated linearities and continuities in traditional historical research (Foucault, 1971 [1986]), as well as the way he has problematized the role of the human sciences in the constitution of power/knowledge regimes (Foucault, 1966 [2000]). Foucault’s critique has...

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