Say Why You Say It
On Ethnographic Companionship, Scale, and Effect
This paper explores “how ethnographic collaboration configures its data” via examination of three relations: between ethnography as method and writing, between leaky empirical and conceptual sets, and between ethnographic and rhetorical effects. I suggest that writing entails keeping the research imagination alive to two simultaneous processes of scaling—of the empirical within the text, and of diverse sets of literature in mutual relation—always with a specific focus and orientation. What emerges is an image of both ‘ethnographer’ and ‘data’ as hybrid and transformable companions.
I illustrate with reference to two quite different texts about emerging Mekong realities. Both are elicited as experimental additions to worlds. In that capacity, they are capable of generating reality effects but those effects cannot be preordained. I conclude that ethnographic collaborations find no other grounds than dic cur hic—why, here, now—or as Isabelle Stengers has formulated it “say why you say it.”
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Copyright (c) 2021 Casper Bruun Jensen
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