Writing and Methodology: Literary Texts as Ethnographic Data and Creative Writing as a Means of Investigation

  • Oscar Hemer
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Communication for Social Change book series (PSCSC)


This chapter discusses the relation between writing and ethnography from two different perspectives. First, drawing from his own experience of both literary, journalistic and academic writing, the author explores the interrelations between these three writing practices, with a specific focus on creative forms of academic writing and even the deployment of fictional elements in ethnographic research. Second, “turning the tables”, he looks at literary texts (books, films and other formats) as ethnographic data. Primarily founding his argument on examples from South Africa and Argentina, he claims that literature may hold key information about processes of development and social change that cannot be assessed by other means. The notion of the conceptual repertoire (Appadurai 1996) is applied in the analysis of fiction’s role in the production of collective memory and self-understanding.


Literary Work Literary Text Academic Writing Ethnographic Data Literary Imagination 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oscar Hemer
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Arts and CommunicationMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden

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