Accepted Paper:

The pre-textual basis of ethnographic knowledge step by step  

Author:

Tomasz Rakowski (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will concern anthropology based on a kind of silent, phenomenological knowledge which is usually obtained during fieldwork. I will present processes of learning ethnographic skills and details that I have passed through during my fieldwork step by step.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will concern anthropology based on a kind of silent, phenomenological knowledge which is usually obtained during fieldwork. I find this level of ethnography extremely important for our work, however at the same time it constitutes a sphere of experience very hard to communicate or describe. Once I have described it as a 'mixture of professional ethnographic knowledge and ignorance' which is usually not communicated to professional audience and remains hidden. It remains hidden because this kind of ethnography is directly related to the non-verbal, mnemonic, and bodily sphere of practice, while only a small portion of this knowledge can be written down in explicit meanings.

Thus, I will present such silent processes of learning ethnographic skills and details that I have passed through during the long-term fieldwork among the unemployed miners of WaƂbrzych in Southwest Poland. As it turned out, a cluster of seeing, hearing, sensing, chatting, and making decisions and diversions from 'the Ethnographer Path' (Sanjek 1990) was the very core of this process. I will try to show this pre-textual basis of ethnographic knowledge as opposite to the 'writing culture' paradigm in modern cultural anthropology.

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