Post-Ethnography Reflections – Les Back & Yasmin Gunaratnam

Four months after our experiment, in the autumn of 2013, we have been reflecting on what we did in this ethnography – about the potential of ‘real-time’ research and its limitations. We are meeting with the hospice at the end of September to review the project and think about its potential. Here are some initial thoughts.

The posts that are presented in this site illustrate how we used the blog format to create and circulate small and vivid ethnographic illustrations. For those following the Every Minute of Everyday blog the outcomes of the research unfolded in a series of episodes from different observers. As a result they added complex layers to our understanding of the multiple meanings of local spaces and how people grieve and remember.

As we walked through Newham, with our different bodies, biographies and devices, all the time being guided by the hospice’s ‘special places’, we generated and collated a variety of sensory pictures of life in the borough. Inevitably, the ethnography elicited what the anthropologist Kathleen Stewart has called ‘ordinary affects’, seemingly random snapshots of life, at particular points in time. However, our association with the hospice and our being ‘directed’ to places with a pre-existing value, created unpredictable illness, death and bereavement related encounters and stories that located and grounded our work. These emotional circuits gave our research a history, which is often seen to be lacking in digital methods.

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