Doing ethnography: embodiment and empathy as a method or a modality?
Anne Sigfrid Grønseth
(Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Lillehammer)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the creation of knowledge in face-to-face fieldwork relations and stresses the need to recognize the embodied, imaginative and empathic aspects. I discuss how embodiment and empathy is to be understood as an approach or method, or maybe rather a way of being or modality.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the creation of knowledge in face-to-face fieldwork relations and stresses the need to recognize, beyond the verbal and factual, the embodied, tacit, imaginative, emotional and empathic aspects. Sharing experiences and engaging with the Tamil population in a small fishing village along the arctic coast of Norway, I came to recognize how knowledge fundamentally is generated in a complex web of relations between people distinctly positioned within social structures, cultural values and meanings, emotions and the imagination. These relations also continuously affect the recognition and decision of what is 'valuable knowledge' in a given context. From these perspectives, I argue how the subject always holds both a personal and social history, which cannot be fully grasped by symbols or language. I argue that the ethnographer's own embodied experiences in the field can attune the ethnographer to an empathic and tacit mode of knowledge that speaks of imparted experiences of everyday life close to how it is felt and lived by the other. While referring to field experiences, I discuss how embodiment and empathy is to be understood as an approach or method, or maybe rather a way of being, or modality.
Doing ethnography through the body