Accepted paper:

When the ethnographer arrives in a "suspended" family. Considerations from a fieldwork in progress between Italy, Norway and Portugal.

Authors:

Federica Manfredi (Institute of Social Science, Lisbon University)

Paper short abstract:

Body-suspensions practitioners are privileged travelers who cross Europe to attend festivals. Social media is central to the organization of these events where a sense of community is nourished. But is it merely a logistical tool or is it a means to prearrange physical meetings?

Paper long abstract:

Body-suspension practitioners travel for a mixture of pleasure, learning and, for some of them, professional growth. Suspension is an extreme body practice, where the skin is pierced by metal hooks holding protagonists in the air. Recently several suspension festivals were held in Europe, followed by intense virtual activities in order to call participants, to share pictures, or simply to create new contacts and cultivate friendships born during festivals. Based on an ethnography in progress, this presentation aims to contribute to the discussion of social media's role in the community-making of body-suspension practitioners. From fieldwork data, suspension meetings involve intense emotional moments, face-to-face occasions where sharing controversial and painful actions contribute to the constitution of a moment outside of ordinary life. Interviewees' words use the emotional language of family to describe the group of practitioners. Festivalgoers' emotions are elaborated in Facebook posts and in picture captions conveying nostalgia and gratitude for each meeting. Thus the online activity is not merely logistical but enhances existing relations, cementing friendships and preparing for future reunions. How do physical and virtual factors influence relationship-making process? Can virtual proximity nourish physical intimacy? How is virtual activity is responsible for creating a sense of family for body suspension practitioners?

panel P083
Creating locality in mobile times: intimacy, friendship and belonging between digital and physical co-presence [ANTHROMOB]