The Poetic Generation of Place: Ethnography for a Better World Ethnography for a better world

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Michael Thomas Hayes


In this article, I employ the ethnographer poetic as a strategic provocation to rethink the foundation of contemporary ethnography. The root of the word poet or poem is the ancient Greek concept of poiesis. Poiesis is defined as making. While in the Greek tradition poiesis foregrounded an analysis of the arts or aesthetics, contemporary usages highlight the making of a social or political dimension. Drawing from the social and political dimensions of poiesis, I argue that the ethnographer does more than simply represent a social context, and, instead, calls the place into existence. The ethnographer poet transforms ethnography from a representational form of inquiry into a generative poetics of place. This allows for a new social mythos to emerge in which the field of ethnography is brought into the service of envisioning and working toward a society that is hopeful, abundant, vibrant, and just.

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HAYES, Michael Thomas. The Poetic Generation of Place: Ethnography for a Better World. The Ethnographic Edge, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 119-129, nov. 2018. ISSN 2537-7426. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 jan. 2020. doi: