Accepted paper:

Ambivalent ways of knowing: from acoustemology to sensory deprivation. Fieldwork among long-haul truck drivers


Agata Stanisz (Adam Mickiewicz University in PoznaƄ)

Paper short abstract:

In my paper, I will discuss how ways of knowing made through a multisensory observation and the application of mixed methodologies can be ambivalent. I will consider how emotional and sensual involvement affects the production more adequate representations of a fieldwork knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

Since 2011, I have dealt with a mobile and multisite phenomenon of road transportation. I have conducted research among long-haul truck drivers carrying material goods within Western European countries. As a part of the research, I live with them in tractor units cabins from one up to four weeks. We share the same multisensous experiences - we hear the same noises and drones, we taste the same "nationalised" food, we feel the same vibrations and the waving movement of the tractor unit, we experience the dimensions and weight of the semitrailer and the density of the transported cargo. We are also subjected to similar rules of regimes of logistics, permanent surveillance and control, evoking anxiety, stress and never-ending boredom. Some of the scientific interests within this research are multisitedness and mobility of truckers, as well as infrastructure landscapes specific for road transportation. Trucker's agenda is situated in spaces that from the anthropological perspective can be labelled as non-places. Very often the waiting and dwelling in such spaces generates peculiar experiences of sensory deprivation and, as a result, calls into question the movement associated with transportation, road infrastructures and profession of a truck driver. Apart from methodologies of multisite ethnography and "new mobilities paradigm", to investigate this ambivalent socio-cultural reality I make use of an audiovisual anthropology. In my paper, I will show how these theoretical tools work in practice and how their application is not only intertwined with the specificity of fieldwork, but also improves its multisensous "description".

panel P08
Sensational knowledge: emotional and sensory encounters as ways of knowing