Accepted Paper:

Financial Markets on Paper: Drawings of Trading Screens by Informants as an Ethnographic Research Method  


Deniz Coral (University of Minnesota)

Paper short abstract:

This paper proposes drawings of trading screens made by informants as a research method. It also discusses how this research method provides a critical lens to examine the ways traders and brokers, whom I call "financial players", interpret and engage with financial markets.

Paper long abstract:

Using drawings as a research method is not foreign to ethnographic endeavors (Martin 1994; Causey 2016). However, due to the heavy digitalization of financial market structures and practices, ethnographic investigations of financial markets put this method aside, and choose to solely rely on researchers' observations and interactions with traders and brokers, whom I call "financial players". I argue that these investigations fall short of providing an adequate answer to this critical question: if financial players' expertise, which seems to equip them with knowledge and power to understand the complexity of markets more than non-players, how insightful can the observations of ethnographers (as non-players) be in capturing how financial players perceive and interpret markets? To address to this question, I will introduce drawings of trading screens made by financial players as a research method that expands the conventional methods implemented to ethnographically study financial markets. By following Raffles' approach (2011) on drawings as being equipped with social meanings, I will discuss the theoretical and conceptual ground upon which "drawings by informants" as a method might reveal how financial players make sense of and engage with markets. I will also draw from ethnographic vignettes from my fieldwork and drawings made by my informants to elaborate on why the analysis of financial players' drawings is crucial and productive to explore market mechanisms.


Causey, Andrew. 2016. Drawn to See: Drawing as an Ethnographic Method. University of Toronto Press.

Martin, Emily. 1994. Flexible Bodies. Beacon Press.

Raffles, Hugh. 2011. Insectopedia. Pantheon

Panel P055
The Anthropology of Drawing