Interfering With Others: Re-configuring Ethnography as a Diffractive Practice

Andréa Wiszmeg, Elias Mellander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this essay we investigate ways to re-configure ethnographic practices and articulate them as diffractive. The essay problematizes the ways in which the phi- losophical concept of reflexivity can be understood as limiting for the inherent compositional character of ethnographic practices. These practices are by necessity carried out in proximity. That makes a reflexive point of departure problema- tic, since it as figuration presupposes a certain amount of distance to that which is studied. We present the concept of diffraction, as introduced by Donna Haraway and elaborated upon by Karen Barad, and discuss its possible philosophical as well as practical implications for ethnographic practices. We review examples of scholarly attempts at a diffractive ethnographic practice, as well as attempts at re-configuring ethnography through proximity by the way of other figurations. The essay takes departure in our experiences of doing ethnographic fieldwork in our respective doctoral studies, concerning different aspects of knowledge production in the fields of cell biology, neurology and in ethnology, in contemporary Sweden.
Original languageDanish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)93-115
Number of pages23
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 18

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ethnology


  • agential cuts
  • apparatus
  • articulation
  • closeness
  • diffraction
  • ethnographic practices
  • ethnography
  • ethnology
  • participants
  • proximity
  • re-configuring
  • reflexivity
  • situatedness

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