|Ethnography has been characterised of late by a form of radical doubt,
which has made some writers wary of producing strongly
‘authored’ narratives. This anxiety has produced a new attention to
the poetics of representation, particularly in anthropological but also
in sociological applications of ethnography (Atkinson & Coffey, 1995).
Strong authorial narratives seem increasingly to be a risky venture, open
to charges of ethnocentrism through their claims to an authority that appears
spurious and ill won. This authority is understood to derive instead from
a literary style - classical realism – which is inherently monologic and
in which the authorial voice subdues the voice of the other (Atkinson,
1990). The result has been a swathe of new writing
that shuns a strong authorial tone in favour of writing styles more favourable
to the new mood of contingency. Claiming the title of ‘author’ suggests
an egoistic desire to cover the ethnographic ‘subject’ with one’s own fingerprints,
thus obscuring or repressing its diversity and complexity.