Ethnographic Fieldwork as Embodied Material Practice: Reflections from Theory and the Field

Nick Hopwood
  • January 2013, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/s0163-2396(2013)0000040013

The importance of the body in ethnographic fieldwork

What is it about?

This chapter explores ethnographic fieldwork as embodied, material practice. It takes as its foundation the long-standing acknowledgement of the importance of ethnographers’ bodies in their work. Concepts and a range of theoretical sources are interwoven with reflections on my own fieldwork in a child and family health service in Sydney. The conceptual discussion begins with a framing of fieldwork as sociomaterial practice, following Schatzki, which highlights bodily and material dimensions of practice. These ideas are then reworked through a number of theoretical lenses, as metaphors of Mo ̈bius ribbons and grotesque bodies are used to reflect on relationships between body, mind, and materiality in ethno- graphic fieldwork.

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