"Ethnography has commonly been summarized as description, albeit description in context, but not exactly theory. Yet theory is defined as the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another, or the general or abstract principles of any body of facts. This, to my mind, makes ethnography most definitely a theoretical endeavor - one that has had, and still has, worldly significance as description and explanation. Thus, ethnography itself as well as its explanatory use is a theoretical endeavor."
"The study of how the powerless become empowered is not so different from how the powerful got their power. Ethnography, with all its flaws, has been an influential practice, helping us make connections between different people and the experiences that they hold in common at a time when more and more we find ourselves divided and even isolated from one another. However, ethnography cannot serve this purpose if it continues to be practiced in a bounded and closed fashion, if the comparisons that we all make between ourselves and others remain implicit in our rigorous academic work. Today there exists a large potential for contemporary anthropological research which remains untapped because the transforming powers of commerce or unregulated accumulation and plunder are too infrequently configured politically."
"Us and Them - in addition to mutual respect for human dignity, better theorizing."
Laura Nader, Culture and Dignity. Dialogues Between the Middle East and the West, Wiley Blackwell, 2013, pp. 51, 75, 77.