'I am sorry that we made you bleed': apprenticeship among Mande Hunters' Musicians
Theodore Konkouris (Queen's University Belfast)
Paper short abstract:
Based on eighteen months apprenticeship under a master hunters’ musician in Mali, this paper considers the implications when ethnographers take a radically participating stance towards the realities they study and use their body as a research tool to access the lifeworlds of others.
Paper long abstract:
In Mali, West Africa, hunters form secret societies which hold regular ceremonies that can be either public events, or private and sacred. . Musical performance is central to all hunters' events. Performances are often recorded and released as cassettes, or otherwise transmitted through specialised hunters' radio shows. In song, a hunters' master musician, accompanied by his apprentices, calls hunters to dance. He challenges powerful hunters to step out of the audience and demands from them his share of the hunt. While doing so, he moves around the performance site, dancing and singing the praises of hunter-heroes. Based on eighteen months apprenticeship under a master hunters' musician, this paper considers the implications when ethnographers take a radically participating stance towards the realities they study and use their body as a research tool to access the lifeworlds of others. . I draw upon the literature on intersubjectivity (Jackson), apprenticeship (Stoller, Wacquant), perception and body movement (Merleau-Ponty) to comment upon the value of knowledge produced through interaction and participation. I show how intersubjective encounters and close relationships between researcher and research participants can be useful tools for experiential research, underlining the embodied nature of ethnographic experience. Finally, I reflect on ways of representing knowledge beyond written text through images and sounds: more specifically, films and audio recordings of Mande hunters' music.
Doing ethnography through the body