New Ethnographic Contexts and methodological innovation: creativity, imagination and performance

Two volumes published separately in two sides of the Atlantic invite us to envisage a methodological universe that expands beyond conventional methods and approaches. Les Back & Nirmal Puwar in Live Methods (2013)—a Sociological Review Monograph—have put forward a manifesto advocating for a more artful and crafty approach to practicing sociology. Another inspiring volume edited by Denielle Elliott and Dara Culhane—A Different Kind of Ethnography: Imaginative Practices and Creative Methodologies (2017, University of Toronto Press)—advocates the use of creative, sensory and performative approaches in ethnography-making, demonstrating the benefits of diverse ethnographic media, such as walking, sketching and story-telling. Such interventions are challenging the state of the art in sociology and anthropology, making available new methodological possibilities that invite a multisensory and imaginative approach to generating knowledge.

New ethnographic contexts and methodological innovation: creativity, imagination and performance is a one-day symposium that aspires to explore possibilities afforded by an emerging ‘turn’ towards imaginative and sensory ethnographic engagement. It features a conversation between Professors Back and Culhane and innovative exercises designed to assess the usefulness of alternative ethnographic media. The inspiration for this symposium originated from the members of the anthropology and sociology doctoral pathways in the South East of England (SeNSS, ESRC), who aspire to open up a broader and open dialogue about the challenges emerging from contemporary ethnographic contexts and/or the opportunities to deviate from conventional or established methodologies.

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