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Visual Truth and the Ethnographic Project1
Visual truth and the ethnographic project

We shall be interested … in the problem of verbal [and visual] texts, which are the initial givens of the corresponding human sciences.

—Bakhtin (1986, p. 104)

As discussed in Chapter 1, a questionable pragmatic epistemology organizes current qualitative inquiry in the human disciplines (see Lincoln & Denzin, 1994). Much contemporary inquiry is organized under modernist, postpositivist ethnographic assumptions (Lather, 1993). Like the modernist novel (see McHale, 1992, p. 44), the modernist ethnographic text presumes a stable external social reality that can be recorded by a stable, objective, scientific observer.2 Although this external reality may yield to multiple interpretations, the interpretive, mobile consciousness of the researcher-as-observer is able to form certain and conclusive observations about it ...

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