Stopped by the Ethnographers conference yesterday to say hi to Grant McCracken. He was the keynote speaker and had lots of interesting layers to his talk –but I was particularly captured by his idea of ‘Ghostliness.’
Ghostliness is that feeling ethnographers and researchers get after spending 36 of the last 40 days listening to other people, soaking in their worlds. If you spend enough time outside of the culture, looking in like this, you start to feel removed and transparent.
The example that immediately came to my mind is when I’ve done a ton of youth research and I know all the latest music, fashion and phrases, but I can’t for a minute participate (“Yo, kids. Ya all busy getting jiggy wid it?”).
Grant used the example of the angels in Wen Wenders’ Wings of Desire. Such a beautiful analogy for that experience.
And as he talked, he actually paced up and down the isles and up into the back of auditorium…