Peripheral wisdom. Unlearning, not-knowing and ethnographic limits
Francisco Martinez (Tallinn University)
Martin Demant Frederiksen (University of Copenhagen)
Disciplinary and methodological discussions:
Aula 31
Wednesday 17 April, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

How does peripherality challenge methodology and theory-making? This panel explores the ways in which the unarticulated & the edgy can be considered a form of thinking about problems, questions & evidence, reflecting also on what it means to be on the periphery — ontologically and epistemologically.

Long abstract:

We start from the premise that clarity and fixity as ideals of modernity do prevent us from approaching that which cannot be easily captured and framed into scientific boundaries. We reach certain ethnographic limits.

We propose not just to move along the boundary between the known and the unknown, but to also remain on it, to stay on the surface and with the in-between. A boundary that is fleeting, unfixed, vague, more related to a state in which we enter than to a geographical space.

We welcome papers that rethink how the unarticulated and the edgy can be incorporated into ethnographic research as a generative condition. And in doing so, we argue that peripherality is not only to be seen as a space in the making or as a marginal condition, but rather as a mode of attention and a form of making theory and practice. We thus propose to be attentive to knowledge that is not just conceptual also but attitudinal, one that unfolds or hovers between the actual and the potential (Crapanzano 2004).

Hence, we set out to engage with a series of empirical and theoretical issues such as:

- What is the centre and the periphery of what we do? And what is its surface and core?

- How to represent the infra-knowledge — what lies beneath the threshold of verbal reasoning, or do not respond to the criteria for widely recognised forms of knowledge?

- How can we apprehend modes of knowing that open up to an invisible realm (Mittermaier 2017)?

- Does learning entails unlearning?