Accepted paper:

Drawing conclusions: The use of Graphic novella to tell simultaneous stories in anthropology


Michael Atkins (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will make use of combinations of drawings and text designed to ethnographically represent the simultaneous and often contradictory stories given to me by informants during my research into commercial and non-commercial public sexual encounters between men. In addition to showing the usefulness of the versatility of forms like graphic novella in ethnography, I hope to make use of these collages to explore the role of ambiguous relationships in the exchanges of intimacy and money between two of my informants.

Paper long abstract:

During my fieldwork into commercial and non-commercial public sexual encounters between men along a stretch of canal in Manchester, I was often offered differing explanations and opinions about the people, events and relationships I observed. In this presentation I will present a series of extracts, of combinations of writing and drawing in the form of multi-media slide-shows that aim to simultaneously show the way two informants explained their relationship to me. Recent works by Tim Ingold (2007, 2012), and others (Galman 2007, 2009,) have revitalised a discussion around the use of drawings and graphical material in Anthropology. Such forms are useful in conveying more sensuous and ambiguous aspects of life, whilst preserving anonymity and facilitating involvement in the ethnographic process. Unlike linear sequence of conventional ethnographic writing and prose, the graphic novella can simultaneously represent and describe the co-presence of ethnographic material in non-linear ways, for example contradictory utterances and arguments, discrepancies between a person's public speech and inner thought, or two or more people speaking together at the same time or over each other. The presentation will be based around Each of them framed their exchanges of intimacy and money differently. Rather than attempting to access an underlying 'truth' of this situation through a singular ethnographic flow, the use of a combination of different streams of text and image within the graphic novella, allow the situation they describe to exist ethnographically 'as is': a combination of different simultaneous, understandings or stories.

panel G17
Anthropology in-the-making: exploring dynamic ways of story-telling and non-conventional methods of presentation