The Young Ethnographers Project

Stirring the pongal


A growing number of young Australians has been demonstrating with their travel choices that they are interested in really getting to know how other people live and how they can help with their problems. Sometimes because they are concerned with the suffering of others, other times because they want to find themselves, no matter what the complex motives behind it are, the reality is that alternative forms of travel and volunteering have been embraced by a new generation in Australia – following the trend of countries like the UK and the US, but, of course, with its own characteristics.


The young ethnographers project gathers a group of young people who have followed this trend (through a gap-year, a non-for-profit-volunteer tour, a service-learning course, a development-aid placement, etc.) and encourages them to take their intercultural experience to another level, to develop their ethno-sense at home. Ethno-sense is short for “ethnographic sensibility”, a very particular type of sensibility that leads to transcend cultural constraints in the understanding of others and oneself (more of this in what is an ethnosense?). ‘Ethnographic’ literally means “writing” (graphia) about “culture” (ethnos), which is exactly what the project participants will do: they will write in this blog about how it is to live closely with unfamiliar others and, more important, how it is to rediscover your own culture through the eyes of others.

This journey of rediscovery will mostly take place in Sydney, a great place to explore the cultural dimensions of everyday life with its interesting mix of Asian, Anglo, Mediterranean and South American influences – to name a few. The idea is to accompany them in their exploration of the city, of the place where they live, but with a distance they have never emphasized before, or that at least they have never stopped to put into writing.

This blog will be the space for them to share their insights on travel, culture, development and modern urban life. It will also be a space for readers interested in finding unexpected insights on new “Western” ways, perhaps more collaborative ways, of seeing the world. The blog will broadly talk of cultural attitudes about global poverty and distant suffering as much as about journeys of personal growth full of awkward encounters and inspiring anecdotes . And as a connecting theme between these two, there will be reflections about how to make a difference, not only within (at a personal level) and abroad (at a social level), but also around (at a cultural level, in everyday life).

If you want to find out more about this project, check out the Project News & Updates or you can also email the project coordinator at

Now you can also download the introductory guide that was used to start this project!