Dancing with children in the field: on the relevance of embodied knowledge and its methodological consequences

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Abstract

In contexts where dancing proves a relevant daily practice, dancing with children may provide an extremely interesting strategic option for education ethnographers. Drawing from my empirical material, I describe how dancing was accidentally introduced as a role in the field (dance teacher) before later becoming an unexpectedly great ethnographic tool. Through a series of different breakdowns, I found this constituted the key to gaining better access to complicated domestic fields and thereby also attaining a closer cultural intimacy with participants, getting more easily integrated into educational contexts, overcoming communication problems and issues with reluctant informants. From this methodological insight, I here reflect on the theoretical aspects involved: should we overlook practices deemed irrelevant from the school agent point of view but essential to domestic contexts, we risk reinforcing symbolic violence through research. Therefore, I conclude by stressing the importance of focusing on apparently ‘irrelevant’ forms of domestic embodied knowledge transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-511
Number of pages14
JournalEthnography and Education
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Breakdown
  • Cultural intimacy
  • Dance enculturation
  • Embodied knowledge
  • Reluctant informants
  • Symbolic violence

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