In this panel we look at forms of embodied participation by the ethnographer, such as sharing practical activities, acquiring skills or starting an apprenticeship, and suggest ways in which these can bring one of the fundamental legacies of ethnography into the future of anthropological knowledge.
In this panel we look at forms of embodied participation by the ethnographer, and suggest ways in which these can bring one of the fundamental legacies of ethnography into the future of anthropological knowledge. Anthropologists have conducted fieldwork through participation in practical activities since the early days of participant observation. The knowledge thus acquired informs our insights on the cultures we study, but often ends up as anecdotal information in the preface to a monograph or footnotes to an article. We aim to stimulate a reflection on this core aspect of the ethnographic method and explore the distinct knowledge it can generate. Drawing inspiration from the works of Jackson, Stoller, Wacquant and others, with this panel we ask what can be gained and what can be at risk when researchers take a radically participating stance towards the realities they study, sharing practical activities, acquiring skills or joining in as apprentices. What happens when ethnographers use their body as a research tool to access the lifeworlds of other people? We aim to engage in this way debates on epistemology, asking about the value of knowledge produced through interaction and participation; on comparativism in anthropology, touching on the problem of relating one's experience to that of other people; on phenomenological approaches, underlining the embodied nature of the ethnographic experience; and on visual and sensory anthropology, inviting a reflection on ways of representing knowledge beyond text through images and sounds.