Militant Ethnography: Political Engagement and Social Movements Research ➜

Another critical dimension of my ongoing research is methodological: developing a model of politically committed ethnographic research that uses engaged ethnography as a way to contribute to movement goals while using my embedded ethnographic position to generate knowledge of movement practices and dynamics. My research has asked the following questions: What methods are most appropriate for studying social movements, particularly if we are interested in everyday activist practices, experiences, and subjectivities? What is the particular role of ethnography? How can we address power imbalances between activists and researchers? How can we make our research useful to the movements we work with? What challenges and contradictions do we encounter when trying to conduct politically engaged ethnographic research?

Throughout my career, I have developed and implemented a model of politically engaged participant observation I call militant ethnography. Such an approach is meant to challenge the divide between researcher and activist, using my dual position as an organizer and anthropologist to not only gain access to movement networks, but also to generate deeper knowledge and more innovative theoretical insights about movement practices, experiences, emotions, and internal political struggles and debates than would otherwise be possible. I have also learned that it is important to maintain sufficient analytic distance in order to generate knowledge that is critical and useful for academics, members of the public, and activists themselves. Some of the challenges of such an approach include publishing in forums that are accessible to movements, negotiating heated internal conflicts, and finding a balance between political commitment and critical distance.  


☛ Activism: Deviation, Beyond Established Models and Pathways
Jeffrey S. Juris (2014). Field Notes on Activism, a Web forum edited by Paula Serafini, Cultural Anthropology.
Archived at:

☛ Insurgent Encounters: Transnational, Activism, Ethnography, and the Political
Jeffrey S. Juris and Alex Khasnabish (Eds) (2013). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Introduction: Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings
Jeffrey S. Juris and Maple Razsa (2012). Hot Spot- Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings, a Web Forum edited by Jeffrey S. Juris and Maple Razsa, Cultural Anthropology. Archived at:

☛ Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalization
Jeffrey S. Juris (2008). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

☛ Practicing Militant Ethnography with the Movement for Global Resistance (MRG) in Barcelona (PDF)
Jeffrey S. Juris (2007). Constituent Imagination:  Militant Investigations, Collective Theorization, Stevphen Shukaitis and David Graeber (Eds.). Oakland, Calif.: AK Press, pp. 164-176.