Drawing on intersectional approaches such as postmodern ethnography and contemporary storytelling, and analytic concepts such as structures of feeling, hauntology, and queer theory, we will examine how art, folklore, and ethnography inform/are informed by each other in the quest for social justice.
When queer theorist José Muñoz references hauntology and "the ghostly presence of a certain structure of feeling" (2009: 42), he is exploring the ways in which Raymond Williams and Jacques Derrida each theorize on the intersections of art and ethnography. Like with postmodern ethnography, and John Berger's "ways of seeing", it is about learning artistic process, of abstract or figurative work, and the rendering of observed, remembered, or imagined experiences. Artistic practice has the potential to transform and it frequently parallels various forms of tradition and storytelling, but with a power, freedom, and depth that is elusive to many ethnographers. Be it visual, material, aural, or performative, our case studies will address issues of social justice and transformation, in relation to issues of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, spirituality, and/or economic disparity. We seek contributions from diverse geographic locations, so as to focus on an overarching question of the role of art and artists in contemporary storytelling and ethnography. Our associated roundtable will allow discussion of these connections, while revisiting Gerald Pocius' 2003 essay on art, and re-examining how art, folklore, and ethnography now work together, 16 years after publication of this key work in folklore theory.