Tracing Ethnography

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Presentation given at the EXPERTISE Conference at the Tel-Aviv University, June 1st, 2009.

Text of Tracing Ethnography

  • 1. Tracing Ethnography:A Performance Approach to the Ethnographers Dis/appearance Chaim Noy Independent Scholar EXPERTISE, Tel-Aviv, June 6, 2009

2. Tracing ethnography

  • (Im)mobililties & Texts
    • Examining situated performances of discourse & interaction
    • Discourse in material environments, multi-modal discourse
  • Ethnographic research at theGiv'at Hatachmoshet(AHNMS), in Jerusalem, Israel.
    • Two densely symbolic (ideological) spaces
    • Commemorative Visitor Book

3. Spaces of commemoration atSite & Museum (i) 4. Spaces of commemoration atSite & Museum (ii) 5. Spaces of commemoration at the visitor book 6. Traces of visitors inter-actions 7. Dasein: Authenticating practices

  • The Heideggerian notion ofDasein (Being There)serves to re-situate me in the field, i.e. the material spaces and environment of theAHNMS.
    • TheDaseinof ethnography
  • A particular sitedness where Being transpires through a particular set of technical and aesthetic practices.
  • A performative rendering of the ethnographic study at the AHNMS, which promotes an acknowledgment of the hereness of research.
    • I offer a challenge to the taken for granted perception of research in situ

8. Tracing ethnographic presence

  • How do we trace ethnographer's presence in situ?
  • First, the presence of myvideo recording devices(cameras, a tripod, and technical equipment), inside the spaces of the museum was interpreted by visitors as display:
    • Visitors approach the recording installation, look directly into the cameras lends, and discuss their meaning with fellow visitors.
    • The video tape captures a number of instances where I approached visitors asking them to avoid manipulating the cameras.

9. Tracing ethnographic presence

  • Second, my embodied presence draws visitors' attention and reaction; visitors negotiate my role.
  • My presence is captured by my own capturing devices:
    • "Wow! I thought it's a sculpture!" (" Yuuh! hashavti sheze pesel! ")

10. 11. 12. Re-search: Collecting practices

  • Similar to the ideologies, resources, and authorities that are involved in the gathering of museumal collections, social science research too involves collectings.
    • Collecting, storing, classifying, (re)presenting
  • The idea of the museum has become fundamental to collecting practicesbeyondthe museum ... practices that cannot only produce knowledge about objects but also configure particular ways of knowing and perceiving(Sharon Macdonald)
  • As part of the ethnography I produced a digital copy of a number of commemorative visitor books

13. Documenting 14. Ethnographer's collection:Pages in the Window

  • Second-order documentation of the visitor book(itself a documenting medium) .
  • Technologies:
    • low-tech to high-tech
    • pages to Windows
    • photography to capturing software

15. Publication:Ideologies of representation

  • Being There ( Dasein )
  • Collecting practices
  • Practices of representing academic research
    • Objectivist and positivist genres of writing (Young)
      • Autoethnographies, poetic, dramatic, evocative, humorous, etc.

16. Embodied = Narrative 17. Disembodied = Non-narrative 18. Conclusion: Towards performative social science

  • Conclusions are not reflexive or contemplative but suggest instead further possibilities of/for situated action, i.e. performance.
    • Experimentation has replaced interpretation(Gilles Deleuze)
  • Further undoing the tie between academic institutions/ideologies/discourses and national ones via performative social science (in situ):
    • Performing at the AHNMS


  • Signing off :Thank you
  • Chaim Noy