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Accepted Papers:

Decolonising gazes: Collaborative ethnography and the inter-play between indigeneity, performance and a European anthropologist  

Author:

Olivia Casagrande (University of Manchester)

Paper Short Abstract:

Moving from a collaborative project with Mapuche artists and intellectuals, the paper elaborates on ethnographic and performative methodologies of participation and co-creation, exploring the possibilities and challenges of ‘decolonising methodologies’.

Paper long abstract:

In a context characterised by what was labelled ‘academic estractivismo’, the participative project MapsUrbe: The invisible City engaged in ‘decolonising methodologies’ (Smith 1999) by working collaboratively with young Mapuche artists and intellectuals in the urban context of Santiago, Chile. At the intersection of experimental ethnography (Irving 2007, 2017) and site-specific performance (Pearson 2010), the project addressed indigenous migration to the capital city. During the research process, subterranean historical narratives and subversive aesthetics emerged, questioning common representations of indigeneity and claiming for mixture and non-whiteness under the skin of the nation. Moving from the MapsUrbe project and two years of fieldwork, the paper elaborates on the articulation of meanings conveyed by ethnographic and performative methodologies of participation and co-creation, exploring polyphonic representations and the possibilities and challenges of ‘decolonising methodologies’. To what extent the collaboration between a white European anthropologist and indigenous and mestizo research participants can be labelled as ‘decolonial’? What do participatory research practices reproduce and/or question within the anthropological discipline? What do they allow to emerge within a particular context of (unequal) knowledge production, and yet which dynamics of power and inequality still result inescapable?

By critically reflecting on these questions, the paper discusses the particularities of knowledge and anthropological theory production, interrogating at the same time discourses of decolonisation. Moreover, it explores Fabian’s proposal of the ethnographer as a theatrical producer and a catalyst for ethnographic and political performances enabling more equal research relationships with our non-academic interlocutors.

Panel P021a
Whose Horizons? Decolonizing European Anthropology [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]