Accepted Paper:

Contested rewards: the rewards of ethnographic media practice  
Sarah Pink (Monash University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws from existing literature and my own research to explore the 'rewards of media practices' in ethnography.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws from existing literature and my own research to explore the 'rewards of media practices' in ethnography. Given that different scholarly approaches to ethnography make different claims to the rewards that media might bring this offers an interesting case study through which to examine how the rewards of media practices can be contingent and contested.

While during the twentieth century the use of media in ethnographic practice was little appreciated by the mainstream 'ethnographic' disciplines, in recent years visual methods and media have become increasingly popular. In this paper I interrogate the implications of these shifts. I will review the 'rewards' that ethnographers using visual methods claim to gain from their practice the epistemological bases for these being understood as rewards. In doing so I reflect on the notion that the use of audio-visual media can bring rewards (e.g. deeper knowledge, new ways of understanding, participatory forms of representation etc) into ethnographic practice. I will suggest that ethnographic media practices form part of a shifting debate about the nature of ethnographic practices. Media practices are argued to bring certain 'rewards' to ethnographic knowledge, yet the nature of the rewards is contingent on methodological approaches and epistemological foundations. Different collectivities of ethnographers with varied disciplinary and/or theoretical affiliations become recruited to different practices and epistemologies. Thus the rewards of media in ethnographic practice are themselves contingent and riddled with all the uncertainties of scholarly debate.

Panel W068
Media Anthropology network workshop: the rewards of media