Creating a shared “activity timespace” in ethnographic collaboration: Aligning knowledge, synchronizing rhythms, re/constructing roles

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This article has three aims. First, it suggests that for collaborators to navigate their way out of uncertainty, they produce a shared “activity timespace” (cf. Bryant and Knight 2019a). I argue that this involves (i) the coalescence of future orientations, as a shared understanding of the purpose(s) of the collaboration is produced; (ii) rhythmic synchronicity as activities become coordinated; and (iii) the reproduction of the roles of collaborators in relation to one another. The second aim is to illustrate two ways in which ethnographer and collaborators navigate their way out of a space of uncertainty to create a shared activity timespace. One is intentional and uses questioning to align knowledge. The other is unintentional, as the ethnographer is encouraged to “be there” until an opportunity to collaborate emerges. The third goal of the article is to suggest that analysis of anticipation within ethnographic collaboration needs to focus not only on the anticipation of events but on our roles in relation to one another (cf. Stephan and Flaherty 2019). Through collaboration, it is not only anticipation about what the future could be that is forced into flux, but about how those futures might come to be built, as “cultural futures” (Appadurai 2013) are embedded within expectations of how to act and what aim for in collaborative encounters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages14
JournalCollaborative Anthropologies
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2022

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  • Ethnographic collaboration
  • Temporality
  • Anticipation
  • Participatory Development
  • Community Empowerment


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