Barbara Sieferle

Participate – experience – understand

A methodical approach to the corporeality of sociocultural realities


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The article discusses the methodical approach to the physical dimensions of culture and society. It argues that physical aspects of sociocultural realities, which often cannot be studied by using verbal language, can be made accessible by the method of participant observation. Based on ethnographic field research on the physicality of pilgrimage, it will be shown to what extent the active participation in the practices of the field can provide a methodical access to the physical dimensions, specifically to the physical patterns of action and experience of the field. The process of the European ethnological understanding of the physical dimensions of sociocultural realities by means of participant observation is made transparent and methodologically comprehensible.

body, participant observation, method, fieldwork, ethnography, autoethnography, pilgrimage, walking, learning, understanding

Sieferle B. (2019). Participate – experience – understand: A methodical approach to the corporeality of sociocultural realities. Journal for European Ethnology and Cultural Analysis, 4(1), 28-48.