Paris-Ouest Nanterre University

On May 23, 2013, the students preparing a M.A. in ethnology organised a symposium that questioned the perspectives emerging from the putting together of two ways of seeing the world: art and anthropology. Through the testimonies of various artists and researchers, they wanted to explore the back and forth movement between these two fields, their fusion even. Can ethnology become artistic material? In the same way, can art provide tools and perspective to construct anthropological knowledge? They invited Christophe Rulhes who talked about the GdRA’s experience, the way he works with Julien Cassier, the anthropological horizon opened by the company’s work and the investigation he carries out. That day, Rulhes got to know the work of Charles Robinson with whom he fruitfully talked in the conference room, in the lobbies, in the metro.

Charles Robinson is the author of Dans les cités, among other novels. The book tells the story of an ethnologist sent in a mission in the suburban area of Paris. The task is to bring back nice instructive portraits that are to go with the official speeches on the local project of urban renovation. He based his novel on an 800-page fieldwork journal. Literature is one of the various ways to explore and observe the world, populations, structures, interactions and individuals. This method inherited from the real, but struggles with it as well. However, one difference has to be pointed out here: the places, structures and individuals Robinson describes do not exist, nor the fieldwork and no investigation has been carried out. Fictitious investigation. Reality of subjection. Here’s something that caught the GdRA’s attention.


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