Going gonzo: toward a performative practice in multimodal ethnography

  • Taylor R. Genovese (Contributor)



In an unconventional anthropological provocation that fuses (visual) narrative with analysis, this article discusses the ways in which living history as a playfully performative—but intellectually and materially rigorous—hobby can entangle with multimodal anthropology in ways that produce mutually beneficial embodied practices. Pulling from performance theory and Flyvbjerg’s (2001) theorization of a phronetic social science, it is argued that anthropologists should adopt an external performative practice in addition to conducting ethnographic research. By doing so, it allows anthropologists to deal with the uncertainty and vicissitudes of ethnographic fieldwork while cultivating a rewarding external performative practice. Likewise, an anthropologist’s chosen external performative practice helps to build confidence and develop extra-ethnographic skillsets for one’s primary research. However, this approach carries with it political and ethical pitfalls; namely, the risk of losing sight of one’s positionality as a researcher. Through an infusion of concepts like ethnographic refusal and anti-hegemonic phronesis, multimodal ethnography, and its partnered external performative practice(s), can become modes for equity, liberation, and justice.
Date made availableJan 1 2019
PublisherHumanities Commons

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