Accepted Paper:

Observant participation among immigrant amateur football matches  


Juliane Müller (University of Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

Combining a phenomenological approach with the methodology of carnal sociology (Wacquant), this paper discusses the momentary abandonment of observation through intense participation in the team sport under study and its significance for remembering, writing and representing culture.

Paper long abstract:

My paper will discuss some methodological issues emerging from long-term fieldwork among south american football players in Seville (Spain). Combining a phenomenological approach with the methodology of carnal sociology, I am interrogating football as embodied competence and individual and collective practical reason. Learning to play football from my Bolivian team colleagues puts the ethnographer into the "point of production" of practice (Wacquant 2005: 466).

I will claim that the active engagement during fieldwork in a competitive team sport reveals some interesting insights into the pre-reflexive structures of knowledge and personal identity. The sensual and social logics of the game make conscious visual observation very difficult to maintain. Instead of it, the production of ethnological knowledge is achieved through a dialogue on body techniques and the sense of the game. The corporal identity of the ethnographer is challenged. She shares the higly emotional moments during the tournament. Both aspects intensify the fieldwork experience so that the ´headnotes` have the potential to be especially rich.

Building on some experimental works in cultural anthropology and sociology, I will try to offer one option to write down this "mnemonic triggers of total bodily experience" (Shilling 2007:12) of the individual ethnographer without losing sight of the social and cultural dimension of any practical reason.

Panel W087
Phenomenological anthropology as research method: debating the pre-textual basis of ethnographic fieldwork