‘This Parenting Lark’: Idiomatic Ways of Knowing and an Epistemology of Paying Adequate Attention

Nolas, Sevasti-Melissa and Varvantakis, Christos. 2021. ‘This Parenting Lark’: Idiomatic Ways of Knowing and an Epistemology of Paying Adequate Attention. In: Francisco Martínez; Lili Di Puppo and Martin Demant Frederiksen, eds. Peripheral Methodologies: Unlearning, Not-knowing and Ethnographic Limits. London: Routledge, pp. 45-60. ISBN 9781350173071 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In this chapter, we engage with the curious signifier of the ‘idiom’ and raise questions about its relationship to (not) knowing and to peripheral methodologies. Traditionally, the term idiom has been used in anthropological writing to suggest a honing of the researchers’ attention to the vernacular practices being employed by interlocutors to live and make sense of their everyday lives (Nolas, Aruldoss, and Varvantakis 2018). Nevertheless, and as with a lot of linguistic metaphors that find their way into anthropological texts, it is notable that the term has been often used unreflexively, indicating a shared, tacit way of attending to the world. We suggest, however, that this tacit way of attending to the world that is expressed by the term ‘idiom’, encapsulates a particular epistemology of paying attention. We elaborate these arguments further by engaging with the question of how one might arrive at calling something an idiom. If, an idiom is a way of recognising cultural practices and forms of expression, what does that experience of recognition look and feel like – given that meaning is often sedimented in and through practice, with earlier layers not always consciously accessible to researchers, and not always easily codified into written, spoken or visual language (Howes 2003; Behar 1996)?

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Book Section

Additional Information:

Research for this paper was funded by European Research Council, ERC-StG-335514 to Dr. Sevasti-Melissa Nolas. We would like to thank Dr Rebecca Reynolds for her insightful and valuable feedback on an earlier draft of the paper, as well as the editors Francisco Martinez and Lili Di Puppo.

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31 March 2020Accepted
28 April 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

29 Jan 2021 11:56

Last Modified:

13 Oct 2022 01:26



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