Ethnographic Turning


  • Joanne Punzo Waghorne Syracuse University



History of Religions, diaspora, Singapore, Chennai, Madras, autoethnography, phenomenology


Ethnography is not native to my field of History of Religions. Here I reflect on my experience of a slow “ethnographic turn” in this field, where textual studies once dominated. Never trained in ethnographic methods, I recount my moves from experiencing archival work as fieldwork, then to the interviews and observations closer to “real” fieldwork, and finally to a self-centered experiential method that involves being there. At the same time, I transitioned from close work in Tamil Nadu, to the Hindu diaspora, and then to a new venue in global Singapore.


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Author Biography

Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Syracuse University

Joanne Waghorne is currently Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. Her most recent publication is Singapore, Spirituality, and the Space of the State: Soul of the Little Red Dot (Bloomsbury, 2020). Her research and teaching interests include spatial theory, globalization, and most recently a return to “myth”—once at the core of religious studies theory but now alive in popular culture.


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How to Cite

Punzo Waghorne, J. . (2020). Ethnographic Turning. Fieldwork in Religion, 15(1-2), 53–66.