The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it brings forth a methodology of “traces” for organizational ethnography of the shadow, also understood as the realm of the repressed. Second, it highlights the emotional disconnect that organizational ethnographers encounter in traumatized communities and provides suggestions to bridge them.
The paper – drawing on autoethnography – incorporates the author’s fieldwork experiences conducted with market women in postconflict Monrovia, Liberia. In the tradition of “confessional tales,” it includes vignettes from fieldnotes and in-depth qualitative interviews.
The paper highlights three types of traces for research on the shadow: memorial, interactional, and material.
The paper is important because it provides a methodology to recover information pertaining to the organizational shadow, where silence, absence, and suppression dominate. It extends existing literature focused on visuality to consider alternative and holistic epistemologies in line with African worldviews.
This paper will help practitioners working with traumatized communities as it suggests the use of memory as a more indirect route to recover information rather than direct questioning.
The paper juxtaposes poignant stories with academic prose and is valuable in terms of content and form. First, it addresses the topics of emotion and discomfort, seldom incorporated in organization studies. Second, it is valuable to scholars wishing to experiment with more intuitive forms of writing.
Cruz, J. (2016), "Following traces: an organizational ethnography in the midst of trauma", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 214-231. https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-02-2016-1366Download as .RIS
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