What comics can do (for ethnography)

In 2009 I submitted my honors thesis in the field of anthropology. The central argument of that thesis was that medium of comics (as in, the format of comic-books) can (and should) be used to tell ethnographic and scientific stories. I did my best to make a good argument. I think I did OK because my University department decided to call my bluff. The following year I started fieldwork and research for a PhD. A large part of this new thesis was to be told through the unique combination of words and image that make up comic(s).

The topic of research turned out to be way, way deeper and more immersive than I had anticipated. My experiment with format had to take a back seat to the presentation and analysis of parkour culture, community and practice. It was an incredible experience for which I am super grateful. I learned so much and made so many friends! About two months ago I submitted that thesis. And, as planned, it had comics in it! Though, not as many as I initially hoped.

While I wait for my results I find the time to look around to discover that there are quite a few others who are experimenting with format. There are exciting things going on and I’m really delighted to see the work of others who share my passion for illustration and comics in Anthropology.

So, I want to fly a flag and put my stuff out there. If this is the kinda stuff you’re into (comics or visual anthropology) I’d love to hear from you!

Below are a few pages from the conclusion of my honors thesis. They’re about the capabilities of the medium of comics.

Thanks!

– Pava

P.S. Sorry! This file is en early draft! I can’t find the finals. Excuse the expressive gremlins… But hopefully it will be enough to give you an idea!

conc2_by_alexpav

conc3_by_alexpav

conc4_by_alexpav

conc5_by_alexpav

thesis_conclusion__p_5_by_alexpav

There was more text… but I don’t want to bore you.

What do you think?

Check out some ethnographic comics from my PhD:
Ilja in Copenhagen
Rhys
Ruz and EZ

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