Suspending the 'academic-applied' divide: my encounter with Barbara
Roxana Moroşanu Firth (De Montfort University )
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the ways in which a focus on ethnographic encounters as resources of anthropological knowledge could open up a discussion about the similarities, rather than the differences, between academic and applied research.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the ways in which a focus on ethnographic encounters as resources of anthropological knowledge could open up a discussion about the similarities, rather than the differences, between academic and applied research. I will draw on my research as part of an interdisciplinary applied RCUK-funded research project focused on domestic energy consumption and aiming to design interventions that would help lower energy demand in the UK. While proposing a particular set of epistemological concerns, addressed during the stages of research design and analysis, the interdisciplinary context of my ethnographic endeavour was momentarily suspended during some research encounters. I will discuss this suspension by focusing on a series of video extracts from a 'house video tour' (Pink 2004) that I took together with Barbara. The clips show moments in which Barbara and I discover, imagine, and understand each other by following serendipitous paths to knowledge that emerge from the encounter itself, as it is often the case in 'traditional' ethnographic fieldwork. I will use Crapanzano's (1992; 2010) conceptualization of the meta-pragmatic ordering principle of 'the Third' and Moore's (2011) analytic lever of 'ethical imagination' to discuss what could be an important similarity between 'academic' and 'applied' ethnographic encounters. This is an acknowledgement of fact that people are able to spontaneously relate in ways that surpass existent social categories, such as 'researcher' and 'participant', and, in doing so, they have the capacity to change the contexts that facilitated their encounters in the first place.
Facing outwards: anthropology beyond academia (a panel convened by the ASA's Apply Network)