Plenary B
Intimacy, immanence and narratives
Carlo Cubero (Tallinn University)
Patrick Laviolette (LIAS Leicester UCL)
Andrew Irving
Start time:
2 August, 2014 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This plenary session explores the connections suggested by three anthropological spheres: intimate ethnographic relationships, the medium in which they are presented and the knowledge they produce.

Long abstract:

The panelists of this plenary shall present ethnographic work in different mediums - text, cinema, and sound. They will consider whether any fundamental epistemological commonalities are characteristic of ethnography, regardless of the medium it is presented in. Or is it the case that mediums and formats are fundamentally unique, each one articulating different realms of experience. The plenary will situate 'narratives' as central to the anthropological project and regards the synonymic value between knowledge and narrative. In other words, that the imponderables which ethnography seeks come into being as they are narrativised. Narrative strategies, in this sense, are as much ways of knowing as they are knowledge itself. From them are intimated inextricable links between method, medium and anthropological understanding. The plenary speaks to a hermeneutics of ethnography, examining the capabilities and continuities of different ways of narrativising empirical materials. A common ground to assess the continuities across ethnographic mediums is to acknowledge the intimacies that are created through observant participation. The result of these methodologies is, arguably, the creation of an ethnography that generates its own context - not exclusively the illustration of a pre-existing one. Works which are successfully produced through this frame are participatory works that immerse the reader in the piece's narrative. Concomitantly, the reader is a participant in the creation of ethnographic meaning, 'labouring' and engaging actively with the text. The ethnography is thus rendered as an authored narrativisation of an empirical experience, rather than being an articulation of transcendent principles, which propose external causes to the world and the unfolding of life. A creative tension is then generated between the authoring of compelling narratives, the conditions made possible by direct experience, and an ethical commitment to empiricism.