In characterizing the archive as an ethnographic place, this text asks that we think about not only identifying and recovering silences, but focus on "animating the mysteries of the past." This text asks that we find ways of making these absences visible through visualizations, particularly drawing on digital methods.
In terms of characterizing ethnographic places, “Ethnographies of Encounter,” pushes us to think about the contradictions, complications, and complexities of places/spaces. Spaces are produced and reproduced. These productions happen in multiples and due to multiple encounters and engagements with various groups. This text also thinks about the intimacy of certain encounters, as well as spatial knowledge. Using Mei Zhan’s work, in particular, the authors talk about worlding and the “awkward resonances that produce translocal encounters” (370). I think awkwardness in general is a great way to think about space/place. How is a space awkwardly produced? What are the tensions in a place? What fits? What’s juxtaposed?
This text calls for a disruption of metanarratives surrounding (ethnographic) place and the manners in which it is mapped out and understood. The text demands an exploration of what is beyond existing geographical landscapes. One such example she presents is Marie-Joseph Angelique's story in Canada. She connects Angelique’s story to geography, asserting that her alleged arson creates a terrain through which other black geographies are produced: the geographies of Montreal were produced in tandem with, rather than without, black captivity, labor, and subjectivity. Her story overturns the geographies of nation-purity to permit a different spatializing of Canada, showing how practices of domination both disrupt and enable black Canadian geographies through re-narration.
In terms of characterizing ethnographic places, and really space/place more generally, Gordon’s conceptualization of haunting actually shifts the way we think about temporality in a given space. Haunting, for Gordon, is simultaneously in the past, present, and future.. And isn’t linear, but is really repetitive. Gordon’s work thinks about repetitions and she talks about how ghosts tend to return to familiar places. I think shifting the way we think about time in relation to space could really open up possibilities for us to think about ethnographic sites. Thinking in relation with McKittrick’s Demonic Grounds, I also think this shift in temporality allows us to operate at various scales simultaneously.
“To write a history of the present requires stretching toward the horizon of what cannot be seen with ordinary clarity yet.. To imagine beyond the limits of what's already understandable is our best hope for retaining what ideology critique traditionally offers while transforming its limitations into what was called utopian possibility” (195)
Above is one of my favorite quotes from Gordon and I think this notion of stretching beyond the horizon to really theorize a present is a great way to think about our ethnographic sites. How do we think toward the future? How do we think beyond a give space and even time? How does haunting disrupt knowledge production generally and what does that disruption do for our thinking of place/space?
The text calls on us to reconize the "ghosts" that characteristically attach themselves to the ethnographic places that produced them in the first place as "haunting reminders of lingering trouble" (xix). According to Gordon, there are "place[s] where things stand gaping" within ethnographic fieldsites, and these might bring us to question the limits of representation and how we present the world. While the ghost represents loss and paths not taken, they also speak to the future possibility and hope of a place. Gordon asserts that social scientists are responsible for considering how we grapple with the history of places when dealing with the present circumstances, asking questions such as the following: How are certain aspects of a place (such as social memory) silenced and absented? How do we capture the fundamental sociality of haunting in a particular place and time?
Why is the idea of local so effective for collective action? How do individuals, embedded in communities of practice, make and remake their senses of place? How might modes of temporality intersect with place?
In relation to questions of cultural production and place: In a complex field of knowledge production, who do you trust? What cultural forms — specialized language, key symbols, and narratives — do you use as clues to target your trust? Where does status come into play? What kinds of cultural capital generate status in place-centered movements?
In terms of characterizing ethnographic places, and really space/place more generally, McKittrick’s work encourages us to think about the overlapping “physical, metaphorical, theoretical, and experiential contours” of a space. How do we think about places as three-dimensional? How do certain places overlap with “subjectivities, imaginations, and stories” (xiii)? When characterizing place, then, how do we navigate between the past, present, and possibly even the future? For me, McKittrick’s work with materiality and scale, especially in relation to the physicality of the auction block itself, has me wondering how we characterize a place in terms of physicality? How can bodies be incorporated into our characterization of place? How can we incorporate the immediacy and materiality of certain places?