Volume 9, Number 1, Spring 2022
Special Issue: "Let me tell you a story" - Anthropological Encounters with Narrative
Edited by Barbara Götsch and Monika Palmberger with contributions by Götsch, Palmberger, Kamal, and others.
Special Issue Introduction: The Nexus of Anthropology and Narrative: Ethnographic Encounters with Storytelling Practices
" Let me tell you a story,” interlocutors repeatedly said to anthropologist Monika Kolodziej (in this issue) when she inquired about interethnic relations in a province in northwest China. Kolodziej tried to understand the people she engaged with: she wanted to know how they lived and what mattered to them. She did not ask for stories but found conversations in the field to be punctuated by them. She is not alone in this observation. Ethnographic fieldwork is often full of stories; it thrives on them. Practices of storytelling are foundational to sociality and sociability in a social group. They facilitate social understanding and represent sites of identity negotiation. This special issue centers on this phenomenon and zooms in on storied encounters in ethnography and anthropology. Ethnographers come to understand the lifeworlds of their interlocutors by engaging with them physically and, more recently, also virtually. They spend this time listening, conversing, observing, and participating. In this process, they encounter narratives in different situations and of different kinds, be they polished accounts with clear beginnings and endings—life histories, political narratives, gossip, jokes, folktales, legends, and myths—or narratives that emerge in situational co-telling, where participants contribute different story elements and meaning is subject to negotiation."
Table of Contents
Barbara Götsch, Monika Palmberger