Unlearning, Not-knowing and Ethnographic Limits
How does peripherality challenge methodology and theory-making? This book examines how the peripheral can be incorporated into ethnographic research, and reflects on what it means to be on the periphery – ontologically and epistemologically. Starting from the premise that clarity and fixity as ideals of modernity prevent us from approaching that which cannot be easily captured and framed into scientific boundaries, the book argues for remaining on the boundary between the known and the unknown in order to surpass this ethnographic limit. Peripheral Methodologies shows that peripherality is not only to be seen as a marginal condition, but rather as a form of theory-making and practice that incorporates reflexivity and experimentation. Instead of domesticating the peripheral, the authors engage in (and insist on) practicing expertise in reverse, unlearning their tools in order to integrate the empirical and analytical otherwise.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Between Village and Bush
Introduction: Welcome to the Corners of the Periphery
Francisco Martínez, Martin D. Frederiksen and Lili Di Puppo
I. Suspension of Clarity
1. At the Core, Beyond Reach: Sufism and Words Flying Away in the Field
Lili Di Puppo
2. Shadows of Meaning: Rethinking Social Dramas through Absurdist Theatre in a Georgian Wedding
Martin Demant Frederiksen
3. ‘This parenting lark’: Idiomatic ways of knowing and an epistemology of paying adequate attention
Melissa Nolas and Christos Varvantakis
4. Desiring the Absence of Knowledge. On Knitting Ethnography and Navigating Diaries
5. Acquiring Mētis in Ceramic Production: Patterned Changes and Peripheral Participation. Ewa Klekot
6. Hammering on the edges. Thresholds of un-knowing in Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico
III Absence of Knowledge
7. Fooled into Fieldwork: Peripheral Research Routes of an Accidental Anthropologist
8. Here, There and Nowhere in Provincial Outskirts and Haunted Houses
Kirsten Marie Raahauge
9. Isomorphic Articulations: Notes from collaborative film-work in an Afghan-Danish Film Collective
Karen Waltorp and ARTlife Film Collective
Conclusion: Catching a Glimpse of Peripheral Wisdom
Lili Di Puppo, Martin D. Frederiksen and Francisco Martínez
Afterthought: Notes on the peripheral, in a plague year
Francisco Martínez is Associate Professor at the School of Humanities of Tallinn University, Estonia.
Lili Di Puppo is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.
Martin Demant Frederiksen is Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University, Denmark.
'In a time when positivist pretensions seek to present qualitative work as predictable and controllable, the great asset of this stimulating volume is how it embraces the unknown. Ethnographers almost naturally enter their field peripherally. Always coming from elsewhere, strangers in language and everyday habits, their strengths reside in their potential to keenly observe and, in painstakingly learning, to lay open what is but tacitly present: the multitude of practices that are at the heart of the human condition.'
– Regina F. Bendix, University of Göttingen, Germany
'Through sometimes tricky and often tense ethnographic chapters, the book helps to deepen and enliven debate on how to decenter customary epistemological, methodological and institutional practices, habits that have run their course, yet continue to resist unlearning. In these messy times, such efforts to cultivate attention are more necessary than ever, and I applaud the book’s ambition to pursue just that.'
– Eeva Berglund, Aalto University, Finland