Love, the common-place goes, is something that happens: something that is made of chance, that is out of our control (we fall in love); and at the same time it is a practice: it is made of an encounter, just like ethnography; and ethnography is totally a relational affair, just like love. (Romantic) love is probably as much a discourse, idealized and ‘imagined’ (like in Xavier Dolan’s film Les amours imaginaires), as it is something that escapes or overflows discourse: it is also lived, performed, embodied, corporeal. It is excessive. It is mysteriously creative, generative: it is magic (Pignarre & Stengers 2011). Love is perhaps even experimental (Rheinberger 1997): it is open-ended and at the same time it is something for which we need to create the conditions for it to happen: it is something we need to care for. Can ‘love’ be useful as a vocabulary to describe and think about what we ethnographers do, how we make our knowledge and the kind of relationships we create in the field? What kinds of things love and ethnography have in common?
Ethnography is often romanticized and idealized: its process is mystified. Considering that we live in a time of ‘fast’ research, a time when the ‘projectification’ of academic knowledge production (Ylijoki 2014) threatens to colonize our research life and sanity, can ethnography-as-epistemic-love work as some sort of resistance (or therapy) to this process? Can (epistemic) love save us?
Aiming at opening up possibilities of thinking about ethnography as a mode of epistemic love, ‘In the mood for epistemic love’ invites Colleex to experiment with a different frame for narrating their ethnographic experiences: tell us your epistemic love stories, through epistemic love letters.
Tell your colleex about your epistemic love stories: the stories about how you make your epistemic magic happens; or the troubled relationships in the field, the unsaid things: your love with the field, your love in the field, the frictions, the unconscious issues; or, be pro-active and, for example, declare your epistemic love to the discipline or area of expertise of your collaborators in the field, or even propose your fieldwork colleex to be your epistemic lovers.
The letters would be collected during the workshop days in a letter box and will be exhibited in the last day.