Exploring scent as
a creative way of life


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Ethnographic writing is determined in at last six ways: (1) contextually (it draws from and creates meaningful social milieux); (2) rhetorically (it uses and is used by expressive conventions); (3) institutionally (one writes within, and against, specific traditions, disciplines, audiences); (4) generically (an ethnography is usually distinguishable from a novel or a travel account); (5) politically (the authority to represent cultural realities is unequally shared and at times contested); (6) historically (all the above conventions and constraints are changing). These determinations govern the inscription of coherent ethnographic fictions.

James Clifford
historian & scholar of cultural studies
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Clifford, J. (2011). Partial Truth. In J. Clifford, K. Fortun, & G. E. Marcus (Eds.), Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography (pp. 1–26). Berkeley, California: University of California Press, p.6.

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Our data are really our own constructions of other people's constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to.

Clifford Geertz
Scholar of cultural studies
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Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books, p.9.

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The objective of ethnography is to describe the lives of people other than ourselves, with an accuracy and sensitivity honed by detailed observation and prolonged first-hand experience.

Tim Ingold
scholar of cultural studies
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Ingold, T. (2008). Anthropology is not ethnography. Proceedings of the British Academy, 154, 69–92.

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To conclude, the Roving Point-of-View privileges an understanding of space as practiced by the intersection of two movements: the movement of the practitioners and the movement of the filmmaking researcher. By following the flow of action and switching between practitioners […], the apparatus represents the practice as a kaleidoscope of multiple perspectives that enter the scene of action, surfacing both the common object of work but also the different vistas involved. Researchers with camera relate to the spatial involvements of practitioners firsthand as they experience the pace, rhythms, and orientations of their movements in space. […] This practiced space can convey the sentiment of disorientation when one is faced with multiplicity, continuous unfolding, and a lack of singular sense. This disquiet is expressed also formally through the almost constantly moving and shaky camera that gives a viewer no chance of fixing a point of view, contemplating, and making sense of the whole scene from this point of reference

Jeanne Mengis, Davide Nicolini & Mara Gorli
practice based researchers
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Mengis, J., Nicolini, D., & Gorli, M. (2016). The Video Production of Space: How Different Recording Practices Matter. Organizational Research Methods, 21(2), 288–315, p. 304.

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What would be good to have are ethnographies – contemporary and historical – of how taste judgments come to be formed, discussed, and sometimes shared. Such ethnographies would look a lot like those produced by laboratory studies of science, concerned with how fact and theory judgments come to be formed, discussed, and sometimes shared.

Steven Shapin
historian & philosopher of science
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Shapin, S. (2012). The sciences of subjectivity. Social Studies of Science, 42(2), 170 –184, p. 177.

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Further to compensating our limited cognitive / sensual capacity to pay attention to everything that might be relevant at the same time, we came to understand that video recordings provide another opportunity. The data is extremely rich: multivocal, multilayered, multi-modal. Video-based methods are able to capture image, sound, temporality and movement concurrently, and thus augment textual (interview, field notes) or non moving visual (observational) data. They provide a «way into» studying the moving, thinking, and feeling body by making available socio-material interactions, gestural elements, facial expressions, temporal sequences and other elements that are difficult to record in field notes.

Nada Endrissat
organization scholars
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Endrissat, Ravasi, Mengis, & Sergi (2019). Interpreting aesthetic video data. Management, 22(2), 316-335.

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From a research point of view, the non-existing boundary between work and life is a challenge. It suggests that creative workers work anytime, anywhere - even in places where they are traditionally not thought to be working (e.g. at home under the shower, in clubs, while having a drink in a bar, or being at a birthday party).

Nada Endrissat & Claus Noppeney
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Endrissat & Noppeney (2012). Creative work and organizational ethnography. Tales from the field of artistic perfumery. Short paper presented to the 28th EGOS Colloquium 2012, Helsinki, Finland, Sub-theme 22: New forms of organizational ethnography.

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