Recent Posts

nice work and near enemies

nice work and near enemies

My newest piece appears in Angelina Castagno’s gorgeous edited volume, The Price of Nice: How Good Intentions Maintain Educational Inequity. Before this project came along, I was relatively certain that I was done done DONE with my decades of work around workplace feminization and ethnographies…

Three Cheers for Inktober!

Three Cheers for Inktober!

I’m a university professor and a scholar and writer and ethnographer and all that stuff, but as an arts-based researcher, sometimes the Art part gets shoved off to the side and hidden away, especially when times are stressful or busy and I have a thousand…

Crooked is the line at QHC in Vancouver

Crooked is the line at QHC in Vancouver

I had a blast at the Qualitative Health Research Conference in Vancouver leading a fantastic workshop on comics in qualitative research and giving a keynote lecture. The Zine workshop was a longer version of my classic studio experience, tailored for a diverse group of researchers interested in learning how comics and the Zine format can transform their work through creative, small-bites and small-moments approaches to data analysis and writing up! Below are some images from the session. Remember, if you want me to teach YOUR group how to make zines and have fun doing it, you can reach out to me via the ‘contact’ tab on this site!

My talk focused on making the case for comics and graphic novels in qualitative research as a way for reaching new, “unruly” publics. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“But beyond trying to unify the threads of a bifurcated life, my work as an artist and ethnographer is rooted in what Barone and Eisner call ‘redirecting conversations about social phenomena by enabling others to vicariously experience the world’. As most of my work is in cartoon form, this work seems to always encounter delegitimizing discourses; comics have found acceptance to some degree in popular culture and even in educational contexts, but are still only marginally acceptable in social science research. Gustavo Fischman (2001) writes that this is partly because ‘images and visual culture are not accepted forms of scholarly transmission’ (28) and our attempts at integrating it can create a slough of epistemological, methodological and general despond. Fischman further cautions us that the introduction of visual culture can be a truly wondrous thing to behold, as long as it is done mindfully and not ‘reduced to the repetition of the same questions and approaches that flaunt eye catching illustrations whose only object is to help in the marketing of a research project’ (p. 32). Art should make things more complex, not less. Art should be clarifying while simultaneously laying bare the complexity and contradiction in our work, and helping us resolve that by finding space to hold contradictory ideas, stories, and meanings at the same time.”

Comics and Ethnography at Oxford

Comics and Ethnography at Oxford

I was very excited to be attending and presenting a work-in-progress paper at the Oxford Ethnography and Education conference this coming week at New College, Oxford University. This conference is a highlight of my year: It’s a chance to workshop and improve a paper while…

comics in ethnographic research

comics in ethnographic research

As Sonya Atalay writes in the introduction to our collaborative, creative collection in American Anthropologist, “In our hypervisual culture, presenting research in a visually engaging way can have a powerful and democratizing impact. Visual methods, such as comics and animation, aid us in telling engaging,…

Cookies and Tea and Gender Diversity in Pittsburgh

Cookies and Tea and Gender Diversity in Pittsburgh

The only thing better than being invited to the University of Pittsburgh is being asked to speak in the Cathedral of Learning, and the only thing better than that is to know that there will be tea and cookies! Come one come all!

AEQ is 50!

AEQ is 50!

Laura and I were contemplating our very last year as Editors in Chief of AEQ when we realized that we were ending our watch on volume 50! Wow! Our Note from the Editors reflects our interest and innovations in publishing creative work, and we hope…

Writers on writing

Writers on writing

An oldie but goodie, my conversation with Dr. Kakali Bhattacharya. Food for thought as we all wrestle with what it means to be scholars and writers in the cold and quiet of the winter semester. We had a great time, and you can watch it…

Mouse Nest

Mouse Nest

At long last, I am an actual, bonafide, legit, published poetess! I am over the moon. My poem, Mouse Nest, is an example of ethnographic poetry. As Cahnmann and Maynard (2010) write, 

Poetry is one important place where ethnographers can explore tensions that
emerge between the outside researcher and the community. By demanding
swift associations and evocative language, poetic craft allows the anthropologist
to name and claim subjectivities and contradictions experienced in “the
field.” (p. 7) Full text here.

You can read the brief ethnographic context statement that is appended to the poem as it appears in Anthropology and Humanism, but I am including a bit more backstory below for those who might be interested. To be an anthropologist of childhood in the modern moment is to be unrelentingly vulnerable and on the brink of tears, yet charged with the most fragile of daily hope, that thing with feathers

Galman, S. C. (2018). Mouse nest. Anthropology and Humanism, 43 (2), 249-250.

I am a preschool ethnographer. On my most recent project, I spent three years and over 1,000 hours as a participant observer in a small, rural New England preschool classroom. In this public multi-age setting I got to know children and their families and community very well, and became a part of classroom life. I set out to explore young children’s pretend play, such as Molly and the narrator in this poem might undertake in the little pretend kitchen, and by doing so sought to understand one location of children’s culture. In the words of James, Jenks and Prout (1998) this was also a project aimed at affirming rural children’s agency and intentionality to continue to “provide the tribes of childhood … with the status of social worlds’ ensuring that such a form of child life can begin to receive detailed annotation” (29–30).  About halfway through my time in preschool there was a shooting at another elementary school, just a short drive away. A group of 1st graders were murdered, and my research site was palpably altered. Bulletproof glass was installed, along with flashing lights. We began doing “lockdown drills” of a heightened sort. I watched as the children picked up on changes in the teacher’s voice, changes in practice (we used to just sit in a circle on the carpet, but now we turned out the lights and huddled in the bathroom and had to be completely silent) and changes in urgency. As Graue and Walsh (1998), Henward (2015) and other preschool ethnographers will attest, children’s culture is so much richer and more nuanced than a mere function of adult culture, but it does keenly take the temperature of adult joy, anger, sadness and fear. The children (and, to be honest, the adults as well) believed that danger was near that day, but as the narrator describes, they were unable to put to words what form it might take. My ethnographic involvement at this site is over, but the lockdown drills continue. As they do everywhere. I have requested that my own children no longer participate in lockdown or “active shooter” drills or similar and I strongly suggest that you do the same. Until the government can protect children in school in meaningful ways no child should be made to rehearse for death like fish in a barrel. No more upping the ante. Draw the line today.

James, A., C. Jenks, and A. Prout. 1998. Theorizing Childhood. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Graue, M. E., and D. J. Walsh. 1998. Studying Children in Context: Theories, Methods and Ethics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Henward A. S.  2015. “She don’t know I got it. You ain’t gonna tell her, are you?” Popular culture as resistance in American preschools. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 46(3): 208–223.

Send your work to the nice people at Jeunesse!

Send your work to the nice people at Jeunesse!

It is often difficult to find just the right place to publish critical, interdisciplinary work in childhood studies. However, I am lucky enough to be one of the editors at Jeunesse, where we publish a wide variety of pieces from the humanities, social sciences and…