Relational geometries of the body: Doing ethnographic fieldwork

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Professional and Practice-based Learning, 2015, 11 pp. 53 - 69
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© 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. This chapter takes a practice-theory informed approach to understanding the body doing ethnographic fieldwork. It treats ethnographic fieldwork as a form of professional practice, albeit a contested one, in which the notion of embodiment is widely established. However new lines of understanding and new ways of giving accounts of these practices are opened up by contemporary practice theories. In particular this chapter takes up the work of Schatzki, and links this to the framing developed by Green and Hopwood (Chap. 2, this volume) – the body as background, resource, and metaphor. These are used to present and expand the concept of relational geometries of the body, a distinctive and useful tool for grappling with questions of the body in fieldwork practice. The geometric approach highlights relationality between the ethnographer and other bodies (including material artefacts), viewing this as central to judgements and performances in fieldwork, and intimately folded into the intellectual and ethical work of ethnographic research. In this way the account rejects Cartesian mind/body dualisms, and instead focuses on the shifting relationships of the doing body.
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