Point of View, Narrative Violence, and Ethnographic Representation: Writing Everyday Violence in 2010s Mexico

Hettie Malcomson

Music, University of Southampton


Despite decades of experimentation in ethnographic writing, lessons from fiction about dividing narrative and authorial voices, about point of view, have yet to be fully explored. Conventional, polyphonic and experimental ethnographies all tend to be written in the first person where the ‘I’ is usually the author, whereas fictional writing includes first, second and third person (singular or plural) narrative voices. Drawing from ethnographic research in northern Mexico, and inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s feminist retelling of famous men’s stories in The World’s Wife, this essay explores the possibilities afforded by giving research participants the ‘I’, the first-person narrative voice, rather than the author-researcher. If we dare to allow ourselves to write from the point of view of research subjects, space is created for both research participants and author-researchers to be depicted in alternative ways. Such a strategy enables the author-researcher to be decentered, destabilizing ethnographic authority, the colonial gaze and the ‘me-search’ that often pervade ethnographies where authorial and narrative voices are united.


Point of View; Narrative Voice; Decentering; Experimental Ethnography; Violence

Author contact: H.Malcomson [at] soton.ac.uk

Citation: Malcomson, H., 2019. “Point of View, Narrative Voice, and Ethnographic Representation: Writing Everyday Violence in 2010s Mexico”, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 22(1), 99-103.