In the past times, very little attention which was given to people who were writing ethnographic materials. Minimal advice offered to learners about ethnographic writing materials which deals with research process and there was literally no minimal or attention given to how the ethnographers formulated their social world accounts or how they wrote their work. The assumption which was derived from all these was that research writing was a matter of general writing skills and it was straight forward.
However in the recent times, there has been a dramatic change and due to the influence of structuralism and post-structuralism and ancient discipline of rhetoric revival, great attention has now been given to the study of texts including the texts which are produced by historians and natural scientists and also those texts of the social scientists. Ethnography is described as a genre of writing which uses field work to provide a human descriptive and extensive study based on human societies.
Ethnographic writing Opens onto the wider practice about, among and against cultures which includes historical ethnography, cultural poetics, cultural criticism, analysis of implicit knowledge and day to day practices, critiques of hegemonic structures of feeling, study of scientific communities, the semiotics of exotic worlds and fantastic spaces and all the studies which focus on meaning systems, cultural artifacts or disputed traditions.
According to (Clifford & Marcus 1986), ethnographic writing interest has increased greatly, there has not only been several books which are concern with writing qualitative or ethnographic accounts but there has been a growing literature which is more of the theoretical kind concerned with rhetoric devices which are deployed by ethnographers, the presuppositions which they are based on and the functions which they perform among others. Ethnographers focus on writing as a form of everyday communicative activity which is embedded in a given sociocultural context and not on the features and nature of canonical, mundane or literary texts.
There is an extensive social science tradition of research on the differences and similarities between writing and speech and unlike traditional researchers who analyze the linguistic features of decontextualized corpuses of transcripts and texts, the ethnographers focus on writing practices and social functions of writing just as it is observed in situations found in their naturally occurring use (Clifford & Marcus 1986). Although ethnographies share a general sympathy for approaches where they combine poetics, history and politics, they more often than not disagree.
Many of the contributions made by them fuse the ethnography and the literary theory, some of them probe the limits of such kind of approaches as they stress the dangers of estheticism which are faced as well as the constraints of the institutional power. There are others who are enthusiastic in advocating experimental forms of writing but in their different ways, they all analyze the past as well as the present practices due to the commitments which they have regarding future possibilities.
Literary approaches of late have enjoyed popularity in the human sciences; in anthropology, influential writers such as Clifford Geertz, Mary Douglas, Victor Turner, Edmund Leach, Claude Levi-Strauss and Jean Duvignaud have all shown great interest in the literary theory and its practice and in their different ways, they have hindered the boundary which separates science from art.
The literary processes such as metaphor, narrative and figuration affects the way that cultural phenomena are registered starting from the first observations which are written to the completed book and to the way the configurations which are written make sense in the readings. The scientific anthropology is also asserted as an art which ethnographies have literary qualities in them.
Written work is usually seen as evocative or as composed artfully and also as factual such as expressive, rhetoric functions are seen as decorative or as just ways of presenting an objective analysis or a more effective description. Therefore, the facts may be separated in principle from their means of communication but their rhetoric or literary dimensions of ethnography cannot be easily compartmentalized because they are active at every level of cultural science and the notion of a literary approach to the anthropology discipline is seen as misleading.
The present essays do not represent a perspective or a tendency with a coherent anthropology, its definition includes physical anthropology, archeology, social or cultural anthropology and linguistics. However, the present form of anthropology is predicted to undergo a metamorphosis but if they are post-anthropological, they are also post- literary (Clifford & Marcus 1986).