Multimodal Displacement as Ethnographic Method and Object

Multimodal Displacement as Ethnographic Method and Object

Plane Gazing
Thalia Gigerenzer (Princeton University)

Every Sunday, people gather on the side of a busy highway in Delhi to watch planes taking off from the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Some of them are migrant laborers, others are poor or lower-middle class families. Most of them have never been on a plane before. In this short film, we meet some of the people who have come on a Sunday in March to watch the spectacle. How the on-lookers express wonder at the sight of these huge flying machines? The film explores the uncanny meeting of two very different worlds in this unique space on the side of a busy highway in Delhi.

In Correspondence: Images as Ethnographic Displacement
Emiko Stock (Cornell University)

Tracing modes of historiographic erasure, the ethnographer searches for a texture that enables correspondence. A correspondence that keeps ethnographer, interlocutors, readers and viewers, in touch. Something that enables the establishment of correspondences across different fieldsites, from Cambodia to Iran. As we are given images to think with, and silences to write up, how do we bring into correspondence things that cannot be seen? Can anthropology generate wonder rather than information? Suggesting image-thoughts for an ethnography with fleeting words and pictures, this presentation asks how displacements brought into correspondence can contribute to an anthropology that truly keeps (us all) in touch.

Refugee, Ethographer & Citizen: Displacing the Boundaries of Displacement
Elif Sari (Cornell University)

This ethno-fiction film brings together Iranian queer refugees and Turkish citizens in a common reflection on their shared experiences and anxieties in a place like Turkey, which is situated as a so-called ‘transition country’ for some and a ‘field site’ and ‘home’ for others. In a context where both the refugees and the citizens are overwhelmed by the unsafety of their present and uncertainty of their future, the film aims to shed light on different forms of displacement—as forced or voluntary migration, as privileged mobility (or lack thereof), and as a sense of social ‘out of place’ness.

Crying at the Airport: Migratory Aid Work, the Estrangement of Home, and Ethnographic Comfort
Erin Routon (Cornell University)

In 2014, the South Texas Family Residential Center opened with the purpose of detaining asylum-seeking women and their children as their cases enter legal proceedings. Since opening, it has attracted other migrants as well: legal advocates. These lawyers and legal assistants travel from across the U.S. to this facility to offer essential legal aid. For many, the return home carries with it a newfound sense of estrangement; meeting and helping these asylum-seekers has a lingering impact. I examine this unexpected sense of displacement and consider the role of the ethnographer who comes to offer comfort by remaining “in the field”.

Riding Dragons Into Fieldwork: Science / Speculative Fiction, (Dis)orientation, and Ethnographic Practice
Rebekah Ciribassi (Cornell University)

Scholars have productively employed the genres of speculative and science fiction as sources for theory, as data, and as inspiration for new modes of writing ethnography. Here, I propose another mode for reading and watching speculative and science fiction: as training for multisensorial, embodied ethnographic practice. I argue that we might think of ethnographic practice as a phenomenological and embodied practice of temporal, spatial, and sensory “disorientation,” to use Sarah Ahmed’s (2016) term. I explore possibilities for usefully honing our ability to be disoriented through active engagements with science/speculative fiction.

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