Ethnographic uses in contexts of exclusion: etnotheater, forms of resistance and marginality in prisons

Principal researcher: Ricardo Seiça Salgado

Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture


Ethnotheatre | Action research | Methodologies | Resistance | Prison

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)



Start date


End date



DL 57/2016/CP1349/CT0010


Along with the dissemination of qualitative research in Sociology, Humanities and Arts, researchers and artists coming from different disciplines of knowledge use ethnography for multiple theoretical-practical purposes. There is an interdisciplinary methodological export/import phenomenon. This research plan focus on the contamination between performance art methodologies and participant observation, and the study of forms of resistance on the threshold of exclusion. It unfolds two lines of study, happening in parallel: 1) One line of study proposes an ethnography in a Youth Prison to study forms of resistance that inmates engender in this world made of strict rules, and how they create common live with and throughout these rules. How to deal with the life cycle experienced by young inmates in prison, since the beginning to the end of punishment? What kind of affective, symbolic, and political relationships do these young inmates share? How do they create their own forms of resistance to deal with this common world, product of their imprisonment? How to describe the mechanism of this resistance? By doing ethnotheatre with inmates in a collaborative way, the aim is also to study the operability of this methodology as action research: a technique of participant observation in marginal contexts and a radical pedagogy of making world, in which the inmates present and reperform themselves. 2) The second line of this research plan is a mapping of the projects that use participant observation for the development of artistic or social intervention. Focused on the “how”, this mapping will seek projects that use ethnography as action research or as a tool to create artistic performances, in the context of sociocultural intervention, and embraces the bridge to a critical methodological dialogue between disciplines of knowledge.