Here’s a summary of one more chapter from Mindful Ethnography – one that addresses one of the most important issues in this book, not just for ethnographers, but in terms of the lessons I want to take from ethnography for living in the world. It explores how we can connect compassionately and empathically with others (and with ourselves), staying connected with both our heads and our hearts, as we engage in activity in the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdoQ62CRXI0.
It digs deep into the question of “othering.” Just who do we create as others (in both small and big ways, along large social axes of race, class and gender, as well as in all kinds of everyday ways). To what aspects of our selves do we construct these “others”? What “empathy walls” do we put up – what Arlie Hochschild refers to “obstacle(s) to deep understanding of another person, one(s) that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs ”? Can mind-hearted practices help us surmount them, transcending our own limits on how far we are able or willing to go – or at least better recognizing them? What might we see on the other side, and how might that help us in our efforts to transform the world?
I also share an “aside” in this chapter – on the paradox of accepting things as they are while acting to change the world – one of several paradoxes I sit with in this book as I bring together scholarship, spiritual pursuits, and social action. (See also this blogpost: https://marjoriefaulstichorellana.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=262&action=edit)
At the end, I offer a guided “metta” meditation for field workers: a way of connecting with more clarity and compassion with all of the people in our field site.
Here’s an overview of Chapter 2 from my book, Mindful Ethnography: Mind, Heart and Activity for Transformative Social Research: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH7a98OJnOc&t=2s. As with the other chapter summaries, it is set to music composed by Andrés Orellana (Abstract Apathy).
This chapter takes us to the first day of a new field enterprise and offers mindful ways of entering a field site and seeing it for the first time. Considering the human tendency to leap to evaluation, summaries, category-formation, and pattern-seeking, I suggest ways of slowing down those analytical processes, becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings and creating more room to listen, and see, with our hearts. I’m curious what people think about my reflections on the term “reflexivity” versus “reflectivity.” A guided meditation for first visits to the field begins around 6:00.
I hope this format is a useful teaching tool for introducing students to ethnography, with, perhaps, some more general lessons for Life.
Here’s a link to a Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1ssPWYWYUukHjJvkDqHcyw) where I read some excerpts from my new book, Mindful Ethnography: Mind, Heart and Activity for Transformative Social Research, summarize the key ideas I address in each chapter, and reflect further on these ideas and my motivations for writing them. I include some brief activities for applying mindfulness to ethnographic research, guiding listeners in some short meditative and contemplative practices oriented around field work.
The tracks are accompanied by music: composed, electronically produced and mastered by my son, Andrés Orellana (who goes by the name “Abstract Apathy” for his music, which can be found on Spotify and other music platforms). The cover image of the book was designed by my visual-and-performing artist daughter, Elisa Noemí. I enlisted my children’s artistic talents not just to support them as emerging artists, and not just because I’m a “proud mama” (though I am), but because despite our very different approaches (Elisa via theatre, storytelling and visual arts; Andrés via music; I via research and writing), we have much in common. We have influenced each others’ thinking and ways of being over the year. For sure, my kids have learned some stuff from me, but I have also learned from them in substantive and important ways. They really have been some of my greatest teachers, and my own ways of seeing, thinking, doing, and being have been enriched through our extended, informal, family collaboration. I also share their art and music as a way of balancing the heady or “mind”-centric nature of academic writing with more heart-centered stances. As you listen to my words, you can rest your eyes on the beautiful image Elisa created, and imbibe the gentle background music Andrés performs. Academic reading doesn’t have to be onerous. And academic work doesn’t have to be boring. It can be a creative, spiritual and aesthetic experience that connects our minds and bodies and anchors us in the world. I hope you will enjoy!