Not My People: Epistemological Complexities of Knowing and Representing Other Cultures in Literary Journalism

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Morton, L. (2014). Not my people: The epistemological complexities of knowing and representing other cultures in literary journalism. Journalism Studies, 15(6), 774-788. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2013.857481

ISSN: 1469-9699


190301 Journalism Studies

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Gaps in cultural knowledge between journalists and their subjects complicate the truth-claims of narrative journalism. The increasing use of narrative and literary techniques in journalism poses further difficulties for practitioners who have a greater range of choices in how to represent their subjects than mainstream journalists. The injunction to "know well" is essentially ethical, but this paper argues that there is value in distinguishing moral dimensions of knowing and representing well from their roots in epistemology. Three book-length works of literary journalism are analysed for the issues raised when combining intercultural reportage with (literary) narrative forms. This paper calls for a more nuanced understanding of the interplay between ethics and epistemology, which in turn can improve reflexive practice, and lead to greater intercultural understanding.


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