The aim of this panel proposal is to approach the processes and phenomena which shape the written and oral dimensions of the local cultures, in order to grasp a contemporary meaning of "traditions", inviting researchers to share their own experiences, and the related methodological issues faced.
Although frequently the methodology of ethnological research (of both collecting and interpreting fieldwork "data" still refers, mostly without any precautions, to "traditional" local cultures as being constantly oral, what nowadays we call "traditional" is obviously a result of the combination of oral and writing. Contemporary local cultures, generically called "traditional" have their own dynamic, influenced both by globalization, and locality (Appadurai). In this dynamic, an important role is played by the relation between the written and unwritten, as two sides of the same local culture.
In addition to the transmission and reproduction of local cultures according to the mechanisms of oral memory, frequently oral narratives, reified through written form, are re-integrated and re-interpreted in the oral dimension of the same community. Researches investigating the relationship between "traditionality/oral" and "textuality" focus on the linguistic aspects (J.M. Foley) and on the dynamic of the written/oral memory in the processes of transmission and reproduction of local cultures (J. Goody). These researches lead the present theoretical frame to epistemological, and, last but not least, methodological transformations.
The current panel seeks: 1. to investigate the complex relationship between written and unwritten (Atkinson 1990) in producing meanings of tradition in the different contexts of change (post communism, or post-colonialism, migration, use of information technology); 2. to investigate the methodological aspects of the ethnological approach related to this topic.
We seek to emphasise such changes, based on the experience of the social sciences researchers, pointing out the methodological challenges in collecting and interpreting data.