Creative Ethnography: Epistemologies, Pedagogies, Possibilities

Reenie Elliott*, Sinéad Lynch*, Federica Banfi, Kayla Rush, Anna Skoura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


This special issue of the Irish Journal of Anthropology seeks to explore creative ethnography from a range of methodological perspectives in the expanded field. Contributions and collaborations with the humanities, the sciences, the arts, medicine, law, architecture, engineering, for example are all encouraged.
The journal will be divided into three sections, and seeks to address three rationales for creative practice in ethnography: epistemologies, pedagogies, and possibilities.
We have intentionally rendered these three terms plural in the special issue title to indicate their complexity, plurality and speculative nature.

1. Epistemologies:
What epistemologies are emerging in your discipline? Epistemologically, the rise of interest in creative ethnography coincides with a rise of ‘new’ and experimental methods in anthropology, such as sensory ethnography and participatory action research. Put simply, new modes of investigation call for new modes of communication in the expression of research outcomes.

We imagine that papers could address various questions, including but not limited to:

-How might collaborative writing communicate the directness of the sensory and affective elements of emplaced experience?
-How can we disrupt the central role of the author in both ‘making’ and ‘making up’ that which they (re-)present as knowledge?
-What processes and cultures of writing can instigate reflexivity or draw attention to the constructed nature of a text?
-What forms of creative ethnography can illuminate matters that are more difficult to communicate through traditional modes of academic writing?

2. Pedagogies:
Just as new methodologies and ethical sensibilities require new forms of communication, so those new forms of communication require new pedagogies.

-How might speculative compositions challenge boundary conditions in the expanded field of inter-disciplinary research?
-How might creative ethnography unlock participant’s skill, style, and voice in the academic arena?
-What practices of creative ethnography can probe the pedagogical possibilities and opportunities within the wider realm of anthropological or interdisciplinary teaching?
-What are the pedagogical challenges of creative ethnography?

3. Possibilities
Many academics and practitioners that we encounter are engaged in creative practice, but feel constrained by academic norms. This applies not only to anthropologists and ethnographers, but also to other disciplines in the expanded field of academic enquiry.

-How can we establish and investigate richer transitional zones between disciplines?
-How do we compartmentalise our ‘creative’ selves as separate from our ‘academic’ selves, and why?
-Can experimentation in ethnographic practice help us to explore old avenues in new ways?
-Can creative ethnography allow us more readily to engage with others to explore our own creativity collaboratively, and thus to explore the world more creatively?

Bibliographical note

Guest Editor Kayla Rush convened our panel to review and edit over 70 contributions to this 'Creative Ethnography' special issue. I also wrote the call for papers, based around Kayla's original idea for the publication.


  • Ethnography
  • research practice
  • architectural ethnography
  • photographic ethnography
  • graphic spatial biography
  • creative pedagogies
  • visual research
  • political geography
  • socio-spatial practice
  • architectural agendas
  • architecture and spatial biography
  • anthropology
  • creative practices
  • interdisciplinary research
  • architecture, art, dance, performance
  • ritual, space, representation
  • sensory ethnography
  • sensory practices
  • visual and graphic communications
  • collaborations
  • creative writing
  • architecture, culture, and geography
  • trades and myths
  • space and place
  • myth ritual and architectural practices
  • body, space, architecture
  • iconography
  • music and notation
  • Sensory spaces


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