The paper reminds us that there has been a long history of mutual influence between ethnography and aesthetics. There is nothing new or recent in textual or graphic experimentation inspired by anthropological or sociological fieldwork. We have not had to wait for the so-called crisis of representation to acknowledge this. Anthropology was among the direct sources and inspirations for modernist aesthetics and textual practice. I go on to suggest that too many contemporary forms of textual experimentation are in fact lacking in truly experimental, avant-garde, force. We need collectively to revisit the values and practices of modernism. I suggest that too many contemporary texts display sentimental realism, a preoccupation with feelings and personal experiences, grounded in realist forms of biographical or autobiographical writing. This represents, I shall suggest, a collective failure of nerve. I call for more disciplined forms of experimentation that are more relevant to a modernist sensibility as well as more faithfully ethnographic.
- © 2013 International Institute for Qualitative Research, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign