Applied ethnopoetics

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Ethnopoetics is a form of narrative analysis designed, initially, for the analysis of folk stories and based on an ethnographic performance-based understanding of narrative emphasizing that meaning is an effect of performance. It offers opportunities for analyzing ‘voice’. The ways in which speakers themselves organize stories along indexical patterns of emphasis, focus, super- and subordination and so on. As such, it is a potentially very useful tool for tracking ‘local’ patterns of meaning-making in narrative. I argue that ethnopoetics could be productively applied to data in which different systems of meaning-making meet — a condition that defines many important service-providing systems in globalizing contexts. Asylum applications in Western Europe are a case in point, and examples will be used from that domain, but the potential usefulness of such an applied ethnopoetics stretches into many other types of service encounters in which crosscultural storytelling is crucial.


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