A Methods Workshop for Faculty and Graduate Students
What Counts as Data
What counts as data? Disciplinary distinctions are commonly imagined in terms of methodological and epistemological commitments. But getting beyond distinctions between “counting” and “describing” across disciplines, Tanya Luhrmann’s radical empiricism pushes on other boundaries of what social scientists consider proper evidence. What is the role of supernatural experience in this field of evidence? Luhrmann’s critique extends beyond mere descriptions of these experiences, and she unpacks her own ‘raw experience’ of the supernatural as a new form of empirical insight into mind and religion. This workshop uses Tanya Luhrmann’s work as a starting point for this discussion surrounding what counts as data and why.
Prof. Tanya Luhrmann
Tanya Marie Luhrmann is the Albert Ray Lang Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University, with a courtesy appointment in Psychology. Her work focuses on the edge of experience: on voices, visions, the world of the supernatural and the world of psychosis. She has done ethnography on the streets of Chicago with homeless and psychotic women, and worked with people who hear voices in Chennai, Accra and the South Bay. She has also done fieldwork with evangelical Christians who seek to hear God speak back, with Zoroastrians who set out to create a more mystical faith, and with people who practice magic. She uses a combination of ethnographic and experimental methods to understand the phenomenology of unusual sensory experiences, the way they are shaped by ideas about minds and persons, and what we can learn from this social shaping that can help us to help those whose voices are distressing. At the heart of the work is the sense of being called, and its possibilities and burden.
Find out more about on Tanya Luhrmann's lecture "Voices of Spirit, Voices of Madness" at 2 pm on Sept. 20 in 1060 HBLL.