Ethnography and/as hypertext fiction: Representing surrogate motherhood
Assisted reproduction, parenthood, kinship, experimental ethnography, fictional anthropology, digital narrativity
Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation & General Secretariat for Research and Technology
6.9.2018 - 5.9.2020
Principal Investigator: Anna Apostolidou
Postdoctoral Researchers: Anna Apostolidou, Ivi Daskalaki
Academic Consultants: Athena Athanasiou, Eirini Tountasaki
Digital Literature Consultant: Theodoros Chiotis
Research Assistants: 2 positions
The research project employs the emerging social practice of surrogate motherhood as a focal point in order to differently address digital ethnographic textuality. Its aim is threefold: firstly, it attempts an ethnographic study of surrogate motherhood, which will be qualitatively approached via participant observation and interviewing ‘pairs of mothers’ (the surrogate and the social mother). Secondly, it seeks to interrogate the practices of ethnographic writing by proposing that the final text of research findings may be presented in a form of fiction writing, namely short stories. Thirdly, it supports the opening up of the ethnographic text in new forms of mediation, by attempting the creation of an ethnographic hypertext with links to multimedia material (papers, videos & photos, interview recordings and excerpts) that will facilitate the non-linear reading of fictional ethnography and its access by non-expert readers. The research stages include: a) tracing the key-themes that emerge from the experience of surrogate motherhood in Greece, b) theoretical and empirical interrogation of the limits between ethnographic writing and fiction, in proposing the production of research-based fiction, c) creation of interconnected digital ethnographic texts by using hypertext narration and multimedia material that enhances contemporary non-linear reading practices, and d) involvement of research informants and non-academic actors in the research project through online commentary.
The final deliverables include: a bilingual online platform that will record the ethnographic progress, seven research-based fictional short stories which will be presented in a digital form (both in Greek and in English), and three academic papers detailing the research planning, implementation and findings. In a new era of readership, research and digitization of art and scholarship, such an undertaking timely places fiction/hypertext ethnography in the growing field of digital humanities and renders the ethnographic text an open body for interrogations by wider audiences.