Messy Ethnography: Does Englishness Exist?


John Alexander Forrest – Professor Emeritus, Purchase College SUNY, Purchase, NY,  USA

Series: Anthropology Research and Developments
BISAC: SOC008000; SOC005000

“Forrest challenges cherished orthodoxies by resurrecting a Boasian style of holistic anthropology in Messy Ethnography: Does Englishness Exist? In an important departure from traditional ethnographies of England, the author embraces contemporary British national multi-ethnicity; neglected in other ethnographies, this aspect leaves the impression that the English nation is exclusively White, middle class, and speak English.  For example, Forrest examines the languages and places of birth of current residents of England, noting that Polish, not South Asian languages, is the commonest second language spoken after English.  I strongly endorse this significant work for publication.” –  Dr. Carole Crumley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology,  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC USA

“John Forrest has an impressive publication record, and the proposed volume promises to be another well written and valuable addition to the anthropological and related literature. I endorse your publication of Messy Culture.” – Dr. Barbara Miller, Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, DC USA

“Social life is messy, uncertain, and emotional. If our desire is to research social life, then we must embrace a research method that, to the best of its/our ability, acknowledges and accommodates mess and chaos, uncertainty and emotion.” – Adams, Jones, and Ellis in Autoethnography: Understanding Qualitative Research

Messy Ethnography takes this quotation seriously. Chapters 1 to 3 pursue a critique of traditional methods of qualitative research and ethnographic writing, not simply pointing out the many flaws, as has been done many times already, but presenting constructive alternatives where needed. The result is a clear-eyed way forward. Chapters 4 to 15 put the lessons from the theoretical first chapters to the test using English culture as a case study. It asks the most obvious questions: Does Englishness exist? If so, where does it exist? What does it look like? etc. etc. The answers are found in a moderately holistic approach that incorporates data from physical anthropology, history and archeology, linguistics and folklore as well as cultural studies. Considerable emphasis is given to how the Georgian and Victorian eras laid down so much of what is considered Englishness today. The book is somewhat autoethnographic, somewhat reflexive, somewhat emic, and somewhat etic (given that I was not born in England, but my mother was English, and I lived there for 9 years – and return regularly because I have family and close friends living there). I am not an insider, not an outsider.

**Order the printed version and SAVE 50% on the e-book with Print+eBook. Price indicated includes shipping**

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Messy Culture

Chapter 2. The Vain Search for Order: Culture Is Messy
Messy vs Noisy
Chaos and Complexity

Chapter 3. What Is England? Does Englishness Exist?
Place of Birth

Chapter 4. Historical Layers: Prehistory to the 18th Century (What English People Remember)
Prehistory (Paleolithic to Iron Age)
Roman Britain
Anglo-Saxon England and Beyond

Chapter 5. Nineteenth Century England (1) General Trends

Chapter 6. Nineteenth Century England (2) Home and Abroad
World Stage
Literature, Poetry, and the Arts
Science, Technology, and Industry

Chapter 7. The English Language
Irregular Verbs
Phrasal Verbs
Order of Adjectives
Countable and Uncountable
Common “Mistakes”
Germanic or Creole?

Chapter 8. Law and Governance
The Reform Act 1832
House of Lords

Chapter 9. Education
Public Schools
Local Schools
General English
General Intelligence/Knowledge

Chapter 10. Sports and Pastimes
The English Lawn and Lawn Sports (Croquet, Bowls, and Tennis)

Chapter 11. Food and Drink
Main Meals
The Festive Board
Pancake Day
Beer and Cider

Chapter 12. English Folklore and Fantasy

Chapter 13. Music
Classical Music
Church Music
Popular Music
Folk Music

Chapter 14. Humor
1970s and Beyond

Chapter 15. Messy Endings


About the Author


Author’s ORCID iD

John Alexander Forrest0000-0002-5038-647X

Publish with Nova Science Publishers

We publish over 800 titles annually by leading researchers from around the world. Submit a Book Proposal Now!