Towards a contemplative approach to ethnography and education: an ethnography of acontemplative classroom at a North American university

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Abstract

This paper gives an ethnographic account of a contemplative class at an elite university in the US. The contemplative class, which incorporates mindfulness-based practices, took on the function of unravelling time, and of challenging the credit-oriented culture of the university. The opening up of time and credits allows for a safe communal space to explore ‘vulnerability’ and ‘authenticity’. As the semester progressed, ‘vulnerability’ and ‘authenticity’ came to be recognised as ‘skills’ to be performed in the class among some students. The conundrum is that these terms are grasped through experience, as relational, non-dualistic ways of being. An ethnographic account of a contemplative class thus begins and ends with the author’s own experience of ontological transformations through contemplative practice. The paper leaves open the question of how a contemplative approach to ethnography might be construed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-141
Number of pages20
JournalEthnography and Education
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Contemplative education
  • authenticity
  • ethnography
  • higher education
  • mindfulness
  • time
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education

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