Embodying Difference: Introducing ‘Contact Movement’ as an Ethnographic Method


  • Harshadha Balasubramanian Department of Anthropology, University College London




This contribution to the special issue advances an ethnographic method which directs the critical project of re-imagining diversity towards studies of how difference emerges in fieldwork encounters. Drawing on my experiences of researching without eyesight, I urge students and teachers of anthropology to acknowledge the value of embodied research methods for examining social and corporeal differences in researcher-participant relationships. Firstly, I call attention to moments when embodied fieldwork may be resisted and how these are expressed as naturalised differences between researchers and participants. To deconstruct such naturalisations, I devise contact movement as a method which allows researchers to embody how these ethnographic tensions, or indeed differences, are negotiated between researchers and their participants. Ultimately, contact movement eagerly re-imagines diversity through a methodological rethink that permits ethnographers to embody and explore the collaborative production of difference in their intersubjective relationships, within the field and beyond.