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Accepted Paper:

Anthropologist in Absentia: Ethnography sans the ethnographer  
Subhashim Goswami (Shiv Nadar University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is a methodological reflection which argues how an ethnography can be produced without the presence of an ethnographer and through the immateriality of the tangible.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is a methodological reflection of an audio-exchange project which took place in the form of exchanging conversation through audio recordings between two sets of people across significantly distinct contexts. Groups of people from a city and a very remote rural location speak to one another by sharing physical recordings over a year. Soon this exchange became about sharing precise information like how much to pay for a photocopy in the city to exchanging physical plants and ferns to treat illnesses, to recording soundscapes of the village like rice boiling, goats bleating besides recording songs which laid out the long history of lives lived and a very tangible sense of the everyday of both the village and the city. The recordings as a response to one another were in-depth ethnographic material which were all produced without really asking a question and certainly without the presence of an anthropologist. The exchange of physical audio recordings, mediated through a sense of knowing the other unravelled a gradual yet definite presentation of the self when such a demand was not made or asked by the other. Using vignettes and content of this audio-exchange project, this paper argues how the materiality of an ethnography can very well be produced when the limitation of an anthropologist’s absence becomes productive of producing an ethnography when one may not have intended so nor envisaged a sociality to emerge when people across distinct contexts do not meet but only listed to sounds and voices.

Panel Exti10
Dematerialization and Immateriality: the impact of intangibility in pedagogy and ethnography
  Session 1 Monday 29 March, 2021, -