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Shouts and murmurs: The ethnographer's potion

Pachirat, Timothy

In a stunning disciplinary upheaval unparalleled since the mid-20th century publication of Robert Dahl’s “Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Protest,” political scientists spilled from their offices and gathered in campus quads to celebrate today’s announcement of the invention of the Fieldwork Invisibility Potion, or FIP.  The culmination of decades of top-secret research funded by the Special Operations Branch of the Social Science Directorate of the National Science Foundation, today’s release of FIP allows for the first time the possibility of ethnographic field research uncontaminated by observer-observed interactions. Variously termed, “bias” and “subjectivity” by leading political science practitioners, these observer-observed interactions have long plagued the quest for a replicable, objective, and systematic ethnographic method. With FIP’s invention, such sources of uncontrolled error in ethnographic research may very well join flat-earth theories, witch burning, and medical bloodletting in the dustbin of prescientific history.

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