On Recurrence and Open-endedness in Life and Analysis
Based on long-term fieldwork in Northeast Brazil and the Republic of Georgia, this article explores how open-endedness can be incorporated into ethnographic analysis and writing, not as the empirical object, but as a basic condition for our knowledge production. In the empirical contexts that we describe, daily life is marked by poor prospects and lack of possibility, especially for young people. Rather than letting this guide our analyses and ways of writing, this article argues for the necessity of paying attention to the openness and potential of experienced moments of change. We propose that even relapses into former habits and predicaments may present a potential for change on a subjective level, as they call for re-starting one’s personal life. As a meta-story to this discussion, we reflect upon the process of putting our informants’ stories into words and analysis. Revisiting both field and text constitutes a hopeful practice similar to the one our informants practice. When hesitating to conclude, something is understood (i.e. something is possible), which would otherwise be left unarticulated.