[New Publication] Online ethnography of activist networks of interpreters: an “ethnonarrative” methodology for socio-political change (Open Access)
Narrative theory in translation studies has been mostly used to examine how translators mediate and refract meaning as they contribute to circulating political agendas across contexts and audiences. Building on this heritage but extending narrative theory beyond cross-language analysis, this paper proposes an ethnonarrative methodology to enquire and write about contemporary activist networks. It provides an epistemological-theoretical framework to explore identity, action and space in prefigurative transnational social movements, and a set of narrative methods and analytical techniques to conduct an ethnography of communication. Drawing on my on-site and online ethnography of Babels, the international network of volunteer interpreters, the paper first discusses the ethical and political questions raised by my practice in, and by my writing about Babels, in the interdisciplinary context of social movement studies and interpreting studies in the first decade of the 21st century. It then exposes the ethnonarrative methodology developed in this context and illustrates its use through a detailed narrative account of how Babels constructed and negotiated its financial structure in and out of Babels.org. Finally, it discusses the extension of the methodology beyond 2.0 (so called participatory) web, as activist networks increasingly communicate through social media and videoconferencing platforms.