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Accepted Paper:

Experiments with the ethnographic image: drawing and arts-based practices in digital ethnography  
Alexandria Petit-Thorne (York University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on experiments with drawing, painting, and other arts-based methods during digital ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores how creative methods enable new forms of representation while simultaneously raising new theoretical and ethical concerns and considerations.

Paper long abstract:

New visual regimes have prompted us to reimagine the notion of the ethnographic image and our relationships to it. This paper explores my own experiments with creative methods during digital ethnographic fieldwork with queer performance artists in Toronto who adapted their performance practices to digital platforms during the pandemic. These experiments with drawing, painting, and other artistic mediums arose as a means to capture images of queer digital spaces in non-photorealistic ways in order to maintain my interlocutors’ anonymity and prevent doxing and harassment in these spaces. Later, as my interlocutors found themselves increasingly pushed off of mainstream public platforms due to targeted homophobic and transphobic harassment, these practices would help me to visually represent the constructed silences and absences in my interlocutors’ virtual worlds.

Based on these experiments with creative methods in digital ethnography, this paper asks what constitutes an ethnographic image or (post)image today. Locating my own work within larger discussions around the ethics of visual and filmic ethnographic representation, this paper explores how arts practices can change how we engage with the field and how we represent its complexities. Moreover, this paper explores the ethical considerations of working with artistic ethnographic images, arguing that while these methods addressed my initial ethical concerns, they raise new considerations and questions around representation and the nature of the ethnographic image itself.

Panel P13b
Towards an anthropology of future images: ethics, politics, and creativity
  Session 1 Friday 10 June, 2022, -