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Doing nothing: Anthropology sits at the same table with contemporary art in Lisbon and Tbilisi

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journal contribution
posted on 02.10.2019, 13:19 by Francisco Martínez
This article proposes an artistic performance to reflect on the labour of fieldwork. The experimental method consists in installing myself at a café in Lisbon and Tbilisi for 35 hours beyond the reach of smartphones and laptops and then doing nothing. Across this exercise, time slows, opening a clearer window into ordinary life. The intervention raises questions about the way digital technologies transform the temporality and experience of ethnographic fieldwork. The essay sets up to make a methodological contribution to a growing literature on ‘inactivity’ and about experimental methods, reminding us that observation is a tiring physical experience and that slow time is correlated with anthropological quality. Doing nothing appears as a slow time being in front of others, which enables a break of consciousness, suspends politics of relevance, and leaves space for serendipity and embodied imagination.

History

Citation

Ethnography, 2018, 20(4), pp. 541-559

Author affiliation

/Organisation

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Ethnography

Publisher

SAGE Publications (UK and US)

issn

1466-1381

eissn

1741-2714

Copyright date

2018

Available date

02/10/2019

Publisher version

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1466138118782549

Language

en