I am a trained ethnographer with years of experience carrying out ethnographic research. Ethnography (“ethno,” or people, and “graphy,” or writing) is a mode of researching and writing that originated in the discipline of anthropology. Ethnographic fieldwork is about physical and social proximity: being in a particular place and close to particular people. Ethnographers live, work, or visit with people repeatedly over time. Observation and participation in daily life—the method of participant observation—brings researchers closer to people’s daily lives and relationships than other social science and community-based methodologies, which tend to rely on a limited number of interactions conducted outside of the usual places where people live, work, receive care, and generally carry out their daily activities. I specialize in household ethnography and in institutional (clinic/hospital) ethnography.

Ethnography is mixed methods research. Our primary research tool is participant observation, which can be structured or unstructured, and lead researchers to new, unexpected, and important insights on social issues. Ethnography also includes interviews, focus groups, participatory methods, and surveys. For example, my ethnographic work in my Children as Caregivers study in Zambia included participant observation in households and the public clinic, as well as structured interviews, focus group discussions, and a 200-household survey in the community. I also used arts-based methods like drawing and performance, as well as games. In my current Caring for Caregivers study in a pediatric hospital in Zambia, we are combining participant observation in the hospital with narrative interviews with family caregivers and semi-structured interviews with hospital staff. We are also devising new ways of doing team ethnographic research during COVID times.

Select Funded Research Projects

Peer reviewed ethnographic publications

Spray, J, Hunleth, J. Where Have All the Children Gone? Against Children’s Invisibility in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Anthropology Now. 2020; 12(2):39-52.

Hunleth J. Zambian Children’s Imaginal Caring: On Fantasy, Play, and Anticipation in an Epidemic Cultural Anthropology. 2019;34(2).

Hunleth J. Children as Caregivers: The Global Fight against Tuberculosis and HIV in Zambia. Newark, Rutgers University Press 2017.

Hunleth J, Jacob RR, Cole SM, Bond V, James AS. School holidays: examining childhood, gender norms, and kinship in children’s shorter-term residential mobility in urban Zambia. Child Geogr. 2015;13(5):501-517. PMCID:PMC4586129 PMID:26435699

Hunleth J. Children’s roles in tuberculosis treatment regimes: constructing childhood and kinship in urban Zambia. Med Anthropol Q. 2013;27(2):292-311. PMCID:PMC3707965 PMID:23804398 (Awarded the 2014 Steven Polgar award from the Society for Medical Anthropology for its originality, theoretical importance, and methodology)

Hunleth J. “ARVs” as sickness and medicine: examining children’s knowledge and experience in the HIV era in urban Zambia. AIDS Care. 2013;25(6):763-6. PMCID:PMC3610860 PMID:23256500

Hunleth J. Beyond on or with: Questioning power dynamics and knowledge production in ‘child-oriented’ research methodology. Childhood. 2011;18(1):81-93. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568210371234