Relational Geometries of the Body: Doing Ethnographic Fieldwork

  • Nick HopwoodEmail author
Part of the Professional and Practice-based Learning book series (PPBL, volume 11)


This chapter takes a practice-theory informed approach to understanding the body doing ethnographic fieldwork. It treats ethnographic fieldwork as a form of professional practice, albeit a contested one, in which the notion of embodiment is widely established. However new lines of understanding and new ways of giving accounts of these practices are opened up by contemporary practice theories. In particular this chapter takes up the work of Schatzki, and links this to the framing developed by Green and Hopwood (Chap. 2, this volume) – the body as background, resource, and metaphor. These are used to present and expand the concept of relational geometries of the body, a distinctive and useful tool for grappling with questions of the body in fieldwork practice. The geometric approach highlights relationality between the ethnographer and other bodies (including material artefacts), viewing this as central to judgements and performances in fieldwork, and intimately folded into the intellectual and ethical work of ethnographic research. In this way the account rejects Cartesian mind/body dualisms, and instead focuses on the shifting relationships of the doing body.


Facial Expression Professional Practice Geometric Relation Aesthetic Judgement Practice Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The University of Technology, Sydney funded the research discussed in this chapter through the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship scheme. I would like to thank the staff of Karitane, in particular those on the Residential Unit, and the families who participated, for allowing me into their lives as professionals and as parents. Alison Lee provided immense inspiration in the early phases of this project. The community of ethnographers at UTS continues to offer inter-disciplinary support and colleagueship. I wish to thank Anne Kinsella and Mary Johnsson for their helpful comments on drafts, and Bill Green for his constructive input.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia

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