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Ethnography and Fiction: Where Is the Border?

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Abstract

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.

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