Introduction. Analyzing Affective Societies
Kahl, Antje – 2019
This contribution discusses an affectively aware methodology of ethnographic research. It highlights fieldwork as relational processes of encountering the so-called ‘other’ and discusses the methodological dilemma of ethnographers’ immersion and detachment during participant observation. We illustrate that epistemological potentials of fieldworkers’ affects, empathy, and emotion have been insufficiently discussed as a systematic methodological heuristic. The chapter hypothesizes that enhanced emotional literacy and a methodology that takes ethnographers’ affective positionalities and practices into account, assists in translating fieldwork experiences into a language that speaks to researchers who have not ‘been there’ in the field. We focus on the advantages of using emotion diaries as a complementary practice of ethnographic data construction in addition to more established techniques. We highlight emotion diaries’ psychological, strategic, epistemic and representational dimensions, and introduce the concepts of field emotions and epistemic emotions as core analytical concepts when relating to and analyzing the phenomena we study. In what we define as empirical affect montage, we suggest juxtaposing ontologically diversified data, which includes researchers’ affects and emotions when interpreting and representing the experience, behavior and talk of those we study.