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Why narrative and emotion in ethnography?

Escrito por Ana M. Relaño-Pastor. Publicado en En voz alta


By Ana M. Relaño-Pastor
Department of Modern Philology (English Studies)
University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

I write this piece after the first weeks of initial fieldwork ‘somewhere in La Mancha’ and I wonder about the power of emotion in narrative as a newcomer breaking the ice to negotiate my own personal stories with the other protagonists of this new ethnographic journey. I have come to the realization that our emotional positionings as researchers in the field of choice is perennially be narrated by others and ourselves, orchestrated by the give and take of the field. 

Emotion, or rather, those affective stances we daily perform in our narratives of personal experiences, is inseparable from our multiple conversations with different interlocutors in the field. In her book chapter, Doing ethnography. The Blackwell guide to research methods in bilingualism and multilingualism (Blackwell, 2008: pp. 248-262), Heller reminds us of the processes involved in the constructed realities of our ethnographies, which far from the common dilemma of whether or not influencing our interlocutors’ behaviors, requires, on the contrary, taking our role as researchers fully into account. Furthermore, when it comes to ethnographies of bi-multilingualism, considered, as she suggests, a particularly charged topic, “transversed by all kinds of ideologies and values”, our daily emotional stances are irremediably at the core of our narrative practices in the field. Narrative as that inner desire to reconstruct our past, to retell what is most important to us, to fix those fractured moments of personal experiences in the here-and-now of our telling, has the power to restore our emotional doings in the field.

Social media and political action?

Escrito por Christian W. Chun. Publicado en En voz alta

Christian W. Chun

By Christian W. Chun
Assistant Professor, Department of English
City University of Hong Kong


My workshop entitled “Critical language in action,” conducted in November 2011 at the Occupy Los Angeles encampment at City Hall during the height and frenzy of the Occupy Movement in the U.S., was video-recorded and posted on YouTube a month and a half later. While the actual attendance at the workshop numbered less than a dozen active participants (details are provided in my 2014 book chapter “Reflexivity and critical language education at Occupy LA” in J. B. Clark and Fred Dervin’s Reflexivity in Language and Intercultural Education: Rethinking Multilingualism and Interculturality, published by Routledge), the video itself has now garnered over 2,500 views.