“Could I live like a lady one day… perhaps yesterday?” Dramatic storytelling, temporality and the anthropological study of interiority
(York University )
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the potential of dramatic storytelling as a theoretical and methodological framework for constructing unconventional temporalities at the level of interiority. It focuses on the ways in which the liminal fiction in the dramatic storytelling sessions complicated the boundaries between the past, the present and the future.
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines the potential of dramatic storytelling as a theoretical and methodological framework for constructing unconventional temporalities at the level of interiority – inner thoughts, speech, feelings and moods. I focus on my current research project that examines the impact of post-EU accession migrations on the lives of Poland’s non-migrant elderly Romani women. In Poland, the quality of life for Romani minorities has deteriorated in recent years due to prevailing stereotypes of the Roma, recent economic crises and resurgent nationalisms. Consequently, many Roma have migrated to the west since Poland’s entry into the European Union in 2004. This has left many of Poland’s Romani communities populated primarily by elders, incapable of traveling abroad due to advanced age and poor health. By employing dramatic storytelling as ethnographic participant observation, my project examines how non-migrant elderly Romani women in Poland cope with multiple forms of discrimination and violence in the absence of their younger relatives. This paper discusses the ways in which the “as if” liminal space of fiction in our dramatic storytelling sessions facilitated a process wherein the Romani women and the ethnographer were able to co-perform their most personal thoughts and feelings about what was, what could have been, what is, what could be, what will be, and what might be. Drawing on theories of affect, I discuss the ways in which the shared emotional knowledge that materialized between the ethnographer and research participants through interior dialogues complicated the boundaries between the past, the present and the future.
Future temporalities in anthropological practice