comics in ethnographic research

comics in ethnographic research

As Sonya Atalay writes in the introduction to our collaborative, creative collection in American Anthropologist, “In our hypervisual culture, presenting research in a visually engaging way can have a powerful and democratizing impact. Visual methods, such as comics and animation, aid us in telling engaging, memorable stories about our work. Storytelling is an important skill in the research tool kit; it brings much-needed creativity to our work lives and to our research while at the same time helping to democratize knowledge and fulfilling our ethical responsibilities to share scholarship outside the academy . . . In different ways, we each present drawing and visual our research to others beyond our discipline. Several of us use these forms of creative work as teaching tools. Discussing creative process and sharing our visual pieces, we present a range of ethnographic work, including a new graphic narrative focused on NAGPRA law and Native American repatriation, drawings used as reflexive practice, comics that help us grapple with uncomfortable data and fieldwork experiences while resisting the urge to reduce complexity, lessons about how graphic novels can be both an object of analysis and a product in a class on violence studies, and students’ experiences learning in class how to translate their research about Indigenous peoples and heritage into comics.We close with a discussion of several key themes that we recognize winding through these diverse approaches to creating research-based graphics and visual work” (Atalay et al, 2019, p. 769).

In this collection I get to appear alongside the brilliant Sonya Atalay, who organized our panel and my performance at the Anthropology meetings a few sessions ago, as well as John Swogger, Letitzia Bonnanno, Sarah Jacqz, Ryan Rybka, Jen Shannon, Cary Speck and Erica Wohlencheck. Not only am I so honored to appear alongside my esteemed colleagues, I am thrilled to be a part of this very different sort of publication. As cartoonists and other artists try to reach new and diverse publics with our material, linking to longer and more in-depth visual material — as this piece does– represents an innovation in printed form.

You can access the full length piece here @ American Anthropologist and the complete link to the entire piece here (the original link in the article is not working):

Galman, S. C. (2019). Not a mirror, but an icon: Ethnographic comic art in three acts. In, Atalay, S., Bonanno, L., Galman, S. C., Jacqz, S., Rybka, R., Shannon, J., Speck, C., Swogger, J., & Wolencheck, E. (Contributors), Ethno/graphic storytelling: Communicating research and exploring pedagogical approaches through graphic narratives, drawings and zines. American Anthropologist,121 (3), 769-770.

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