Talking Spaces, Locating Discourses? Thoughts about a Transdisciplinary Ethnography
In this article the possibilities for and attainment of knowledge in a transdisciplinary combination of the analytical categories "space" and "discourse" are explored, focusing on research of the urban and the public in the area of cultural science. The background of this article is a shared research experience in an interdisciplinary ethnography project investigating political appropriation of urban space in Mexico City. In this project ethnographic research on urban space by WILDNER and the semiotic analysis of discourse by HUFFSCHMID were combined. In the first part of the article the conceptual assumptions of this intersection are discussed, followed by questions about what was learned from the respective analytical practices. Our assumption is the interpenetration of space and discourse: no space (as discussed by LEFEBVRE) can be acknowledged without its discursive configurations; meanwhile discourse (as discussed by FOUCAULT) does not take place in a void, but rather in a material as well as socially constructed space. The authors discuss different levels of methodological approaches as observation, reading, description, and analysis of spatial and discursive practices and materiality. On the basis of the case study (three closing events of the election campaign in Mexico City 2006) possible interfaces and intersections between research on spaces and on discourses are delineated in connection to the concepts of setting/stage/dramatization, control/power, and inscription.
discourse; space; transdisciplinarity; ethnography; Mexico City