Julie Patarin-Jossec’s work tests the boundaries of experimental practice and questions disciplinary presuppositions related to the use of photography in sociological research. Julie’s ethnographic portraits result from a long-term ethnography with astronauts, the composition and subject of each photograph is influenced by the immersion of the ethnographer and an additional life story interview with the pictured astronauts.
These portraits emphasize how mediatic and politicized figures with strong social capital embed postcolonial imaginaries and space exploration narratives. Following the few visual sociologists who have used portraiture as part of their research process (e.g., Douglas Harper), Julie sees the ethnographic portrait as a form of conceptual photography that could magnify the ethnographic practice. The ethnographic portrait also adds to the range of
participatory approaches already developed in visual sociology (e.g., photovoice), while continuing the reflexive process via images started with her autoethnographic series.
Julie’s adaptation of visual autoethnography highlights the role of the ethnographer’s subjectivity in the research process. Photographs contributing to this autoethnographic series were shot during Julie’s PhD research and allowed her to develop the systematic use of visuals as auto-analytical instruments. Julie developed this autoethnographic methodology to highlight the insecurities of an emerging ethnographer in the field and, via the use of photography and imaging, to turn doubts and subjectivation into heuristic materials. Julie describes her autoethnographic series as both an invitation to visually narrate oneself and, in doing so, to further reflect on the role of an ethnographer’s trajectory on the knowledge they produce and teach.
Julie’s work directly experiments with the boundaries of visual sociology as a field and has much to offer visual sociology and allied disciplines.