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Ethnography and incommensurability in the aftermath of insurgency

Posocco, Silvia (2011) Ethnography and incommensurability in the aftermath of insurgency. Cultural Dynamics 23 (1), pp. 57-71. ISSN 0921-3740.

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Does ethnography in some way enact and perform what it names? If one foregrounds this performative dimension, what exactly does ethnography in the aftermath of insurgency do? The article explores these questions as they emerge in the context of ethnography in the aftermath of insurgency (insurgencia) in Guatemala, and in relation to debates in social and cultural theory. It is argued that ethnography activates—and is responsive to—performative modes of subjectification and desubjectification discussed, inter alia, with reference to notions of ‘the archive’ and ‘testimony’. The article shows that ethnography in the aftermath of insurgency conjures up insurrectionary modalities of action. It establishes realignments and relations, enacts substitutions, and arouses modes of cross-identification between subjects, directly referencing how the insurgency was sustained during the Guatemalan conflict. However, rather than crystallizing or stabilizing an account of the insurgency, ethnography deals specifically with incommensurability and the slips— or gaps—that result from oscillations between representation—as in the multiply populated archive that holds the voices of many speaking subjects—and non-representation—as in the indexical domain of the subjectless archive that is all that there is that can speak.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): archive, ethnography, ethnographic incommensurability, Guatemala, guerrillas, performativity, witnessing
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2011 15:08
Last Modified: 17 May 2013 07:41

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