Gifts of grief: performative ethnography and the revelatory potential of emotion

Henry, Rosita (2012) Gifts of grief: performative ethnography and the revelatory potential of emotion. Qualitative Research, 12 (5). 528-539.

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Abstract

After participation in the funeral of a beloved friend in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, I was drawn to contemplate the revelatory potential of emotions such as grief. With reference to literature on the anthropology of emotions and the concept of empathy, I consider the relationship between ethnographic knowledge and deep emotional responses in the context of fieldwork. I argue that moments of intense emotional engagement, which many researchers record as having experienced during fieldwork, have the potential to lead to rich ethnographic understanding, particularly when such moments productively draw us into participatory cultural performances that help mediate the conceptual divide between meaning and feeling, observer and observed.

Item ID: 23627
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1741-3109
Keywords: Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea, grief, funerary ritual, mourning rites, anthropology of emotion, empathy, ethnographic fieldwork, performativity
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2013 03:01
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 50%
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