Ethnography and Its Audiences

Elisenda Ardévol and Débora Lanzeni are participating in  the international research symposium ”Ethnography and Its Audiences” at Halmstad University on October 14–15, 2015.

The symposium is organised by SCACA (The Swedish Centre for Applied Cultural Analysis), which is a resource centre for applied cultural and social analysis at the School of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. We presented:

Audience in the transformative process of ethnography

 Writing cultures opens the black box of the ethnography putting under query the status of veracity in the ethnographic narrative. Geertz, Clifford, Ravinow, Rapp and others put in severe question the authority of the ethnographer and asked for a deep engagement in reflexivity.  Visual anthropology leaded the crisis of representation reframing the ethnographic relations between the ethnographer and the subjects suggesting that the outcome is a co-authorized. After all that it is impossible to think about an ethnographic project that not implies at least the inclusion of our partners in the process of making knowledge.

Here, we want to bring under discussion the possibility to ponder our partners as first audience in the transformative process that ethnography implies. We will question the very notion of “audience” as it keeps the separation between subject of enunciation and subject of reception, along side with the idea of “talking about” instead of a co-productive notion of knowledge. Who is the audience? Is it the reader/watcher/beholder of the final product? Is it our interlocutors in Academia, in the industries? Do we have a myriad of audiences during the trajectory of the ethnography? What happened if we consider our partners in fieldwork as our primordial audience? Is the audience only the onlooker of a final, coherent product or we delivery different forms of ethnographic findings?

We take the ethnographic process as open and transformative because we develop knowledge with other in the relations that we build up during fieldwork. In this opening we articulate information, thoughts, wonders and impressions in order to communicate those to our partners and that is part of the ethnographic process as well as part of our ethnographic outcomes. 

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