Samuel Baron's A Description of the Kingdom of Tonqueen (1686) contains many tropes of the European travel narrative. However, its author was no stranger to the country, but was born to a Vietnamese mother and Dutch father in mid-seventeenth-century Hanoi. Here I discuss how Baron fashioned his identity during his life to attract multiple patrons in the unstable maritime world of Southeast and East Asia. I re-read his Description as an example of “auto-ethnography,” showing how the author shaped his work to achieve certain ends. A comparison with a contemporary Chinese description of northern Vietnam reveals many similarities in tone and approach and helps situate Baron's text within the commercial and diplomatic exchanges of the region.
Samuel Baron's Description of Tonqueen (1686)
Fieldwork, Biography, and Authorship in Southwest China and Beyond
researchers and interlocutors alike to declare a degree of ownership over each other’s biographies. To this end, I demonstrate the value of incorporating auto-ethnographic elements into the study of religion, given that claims to authoring or owning our
Auto-ethnographical Reflections at the Jewish Museum Berlin
Victoria Bishop Kendzia
This article explores the issue of ethnic attributions versus options pertaining to Jewishness in Germany. The methodology is a combination of standard ethnographic fieldwork with Berlin-based high-school students before, during and after visits to the Jewish Museum Berlin (JMB) and auto-ethnography detailing and analysing my own experiences in and outside of the research sites. My goal is to illustrate particularities of interactions in sites like the JMB by contrasting the way in which Jewishness is handled in and outside of the standardised research situation. Further, the material points to continuities between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. My analysis aims to open up further, productive discussion on this point.
Auto-ethnographic writing in the knowledge economy
This article examines what it means to be an academic in the knowledge economy, using auto-ethnographic writing or storytelling as its starting point. Although academic mobility has been researched for about a decade, deep listening and deep reading in the context of ethnography have not been utilised in analysing what it means to move in this global space. To conduct this exercise, fellows from the European Union-funded Universities in the Knowledge Economy project who were all mobile academics, were invited to participate in ethnographic writing workshops and explore the personal, subjective elements of narrating their experiences of being mobile and being migrants. I aim to not only present the narratives of colleagues who populate the global knowledge economy but also analyse them and ask if certain ideal forms of narrative habitus support academic mobility.
This article offers a reflexive and phenomenological response to some of the challenges of the recent ontological turn. It argues, first, that a focus on embodiment is crucial in understanding the formation of ontological assumptions, and, second, that researchers have an ethical responsibility to practice an ‘ontological reflexivity’ that goes beyond the conceptual reflexivity of much recent ontological work. It conceives the anthropological domain as a place of ‘intra-actment’ and maintains that to avoid ontological closure, researchers must contextualize their ontological assumptions by reflexively sensitizing themselves to how these assumptions are shaped by both embodied experience and the contexts in which they are articulated and performed. This article seeks to enact this through an auto-ethnographic exploration of the author’s own embodied experience as it relates to demonic manifestations and the divine.
Emergent Dalitbahujan Anthropologists
Reddi Sekhara Yalamala
The low caste, Dalit and Tribal social movements in India have reconfigured the fabric of Indian society in significant ways over the past decade. Likewise, the movement of these same groups into anthropology, a discipline previously dominated in India by upper-caste intellectuals, has created a dynamic force for change in the academy. At a time when India is vying with the global economic powers for supremacy, the people severely affected are low caste, Dalits and Tribal peoples, who see their lands being lost and their lifestyles in rapid transformation. Some from these same groups are also witnessing some of their daughters and sons pursuing higher studies and entering into the social sciences. The entry of these young scholars not only challenges the caste-based status quo in the academy, but it also forces these scholars to question their own position in relation to these social movements and in relation to Indian society more broadly.
Sacred Place and Human Wellbeing in the Shimla Hills
reassessment of fundamental assumptions about the role that unskilled actors play in the constitution of sites that promote spiritual wellbeing. Our exploration of Tara Devi will use auto-ethnography as a key source, alongside archival, geographic and the more
Corporeal Intimacies, Disgust and Violence in a COVID-19 World
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way we imagine and experience our bodily boundaries. While previously we may have believed our body to be discrete and bounded by our skin, the latest medical advice has awakened us to the porous nature of our bodies. The virus, we have learnt, may enter our body through our mouths, nose and eyeballs via the surfaces that we touch and through the air that we breathe. In this article, I employ auto-ethnographic reflections and recent media coverage to argue that this new corporeal intimacy has both produced and revealed new and latent experiences of disgust and violence.
Urban Exploration in Estonia
Francisco Martínez and Patrick Laviolette
This article outlines narratives of trespass. It analyses relations between the personal and the social in abandoned urban physical surroundings. Grounded in our own duo-auto-ethnographic encounters with off-limit places, the research examines the classic notion of liminality through a set of prisms that are less than orthodox. It does so by stressing the formative and transformative possibilities of those threshold spaces that often get bypassed, surpassed or trespassed. Through a series of vignettes describing moments of urban exploration in different parts of Estonia, our implicit aim is to unsettle such conceptual categories as risk and adventure, material decay and transgression. Explicitly, we argue for revisiting storytelling tropes such as the flâneur or the stalker, freeing them up from their respective leisure and pastime associations.
Michael Alexander Ulfstjerne
This article explores virtual common singing in the time of partial lockdown in Denmark through an auto-ethnographic account. The phenomenon of singing together on Danish public service television gained immense popularity as a response to the pandemic as one-fifth of the population tuned in, in many cases broadcasting themselves while signing. Looking at common singing as an emergent ‘infrastructure for troubling times’, this article takes up questions of digitally mediated intimacy during the COVID-19 lockdown, exploring who sings, what is sung, and the affective responses (tears, feelings of intimacy, ambivalence) to the singing. More than merely reviving vernacular singing traditions, the article argues, this new-found sonic comradery forms not only an affective infrastructure that moves people to tears but also somatic building blocks for national imageries.