Scattered Diaries: biographical dialogues on the ethnographic imagination, friendship, and popular music research

Asya Draganova, Shane Blackman

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter seeks to be surprising; it is purposefully different and will not conform to the ‘traditional’ academic format. Instead, this is a playful exploration of one of the distinctive tools within ethnography: the diary. This diary is not a linear documentation of events, but an imperfect retrospective, a scattered dialogue between two friends and research collaborators – Asya and Shane. We aim to reflect, in a new and personal style, on the biographical aspects of doing popular music ethnography, teaching and research through working together. We tell a story about an academic friendship There are two broad theoretical frameworks to this critical dialogue which derives firstly, from C. Wright Mills’ (1959: 216) The Sociological Imagination, which suggests “you must learn to use your life experience in your intellectual work.” Secondly, from Les Back’s (2016) Academic Diary, whereby we chronicle our engagements through dates, but these dates are not presented in a chronological narrative but are scattered under the weight of pressure and rhythm. We do not offer a self-help guide to the academy or a saucy intro to ethnography, it is a highly personalised account which dips in and out of theoretical language because this what we do in the academy. We seek to question our relationship, how and why it developed with a focus on biography, subjectivity, and emotionality. Asya and Shane first met as undergraduate student and lecturer, then were PhD researcher and doctoral supervisor, co-lecturers, and then subsequently to become joint co-authors in writing academic studies and holding musical events. This chapter builds on the key characteristic of our collaboration in less conventional ways. It gives voice to personal experience through the metaphor of an academic journey which moves from the personal to the cultural and back again. Our working relationships have been dynamic and intimate. The glue that has kept us together consists of trust and surprise operating on the principle of accepting ideas ‘out of the blue’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPopular Music Ethnographies
    Publication statusAccepted/In press (AAM) - 2024


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