Accepted paper:

Mutualizing of utopias? On filmmaking and fieldwork with Others


Karen Waltorp (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

I draw on fieldwork, filming, and a collaborative exhibition in a multi-ethnic, social housing area in Copenhagen. I discuss this collaborative approach, which also engages audiences as an integral part of knowledge making, as both opening up to – and as driven by - utopian ideals.

Paper long abstract:

Fieldwork and knowledge creation can be approached as collaboration, involving a dialectic feedback process with interlocutors as well as various audiences as an integral part of knowledge making. My interlocutors are young Muslim women of ethnic minority origin, the ‘Other’ in Danish society. In working creatively with documenting their everyday life, hopes, fears, longing and belonging, new spaces of potentiality emerge as a form of ‘moral laboratories’. Ideals about autonomy, society, religion, gender, belonging and morality are negotiated in novel ways, technology- and media-related activities inextricably entwined in this. In this paper, I will reflect on the nature of the interventionist, collaborative fieldwork, and the struggle to be sensitive to-, reflexive about-, and creatively use- the power of sequencing, curating, and editing of the products of our collaborative efforts in the field: What role does the anthropologists’ personal and political ideals play in this understanding of fieldwork and its products and effects? And how does the ‘mutualizing of utopias’ come about? Is it a mutual ‘invention of culture(s)’, to paraphrase Roy Wagner, emerging between the interlocutors and the anthropologist - or how are we to make sense of it?

panel P063
Anthropological utopias: debating personal, political and idealist expectations in the intersection of theory and ethnographic practice