'Journeys of the I and We': Theorizing the Ethnographic Encounter Over Time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

For ethnographers repeatedly engaged with the same community on the ‘margins’, questions of access, positionality and representation become compounded by temporal dynamism. Participant and researcher subjectivities change over time, thus destabilizing identities and calling into question where and how to frame conversations. I reflect on bridging the gap between theoretical perspectives on the ‘margins’ and how inhabitants of a Delhi resettlement colony variously describe notions of liminality—from the metaphoric, to the geographic and to the social—over a prolonged ethnographic encounter. By bringing the temporal ‘journey’ of the researcher and interlocutor to the fore, I seek to open up a conversation on situated knowledges. More specifically, I ask how (and if) urban ethnographers can adequately capture shifting aspirations and feelings of in-betweenness, while grappling with one’s own responsibility to politically engaged research. Finally, I discuss the political relevance of evolving attitudes towards life on the margins, with implications for knowledge production and representation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-218
JournalCity
Volume21
Issue number2
Early online date14 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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