Ethnography and Fiction: Where Is the Border?
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
Anthropology and Humanism
Volume 24, Issue 2, pages 134–147, December 1999
How to Cite
Narayan, K. (1999), Ethnography and Fiction: Where Is the Border?. Anthropology and Humanism, 24: 134–147. doi: 10.1525/ahu.19188.8.131.52
- Issue published online: 28 OCT 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
This article seeks to identify writing practices that indicate the presence of a border between ethnography and fiction. I trace a short history of anthropologists writing fiction and draw on a short extract from a novel I am writing that was inspired byfieldwork. Writing ethnographic texts and writing fiction, I argue, involves different perspectives on (1) the disclosure of process, (2) generalization, (3) representations of subjectivity, and (4) accountability. Such orienting landmarks indicate the presence of a border, but it is a border neither impermeable nor fixed. To acknowledge this border is also to allow for mindful border crossings that may potentially enrich both ethnography and fiction.