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Los Angeles River: Moving Through.

The Los Angeles River begins in the San Fernando Valley and weaves its way through Los Angeles County through channels on a concrete course. The Los Angeles Aqueduct, a constructed system channeling water from Owens River, also weaves its way through Los Angeles County. The Aqueduct was instrumental in post-world war two development and industrialization. Following these two waterways through the county, we can see how the harnessing of the natural world provided life within rocky desert terrain, a world that is both lush and devastating. Concrete and Dust focuses on the performative nature of sexualized identity in Hollywood, the people that live in its underbelly and surrounding valleys, the sexual geographies of the place, and the ways in which sexual agency is mapped on the body and in consciousness.In this book, we follow my journey to make sense of sexual identity within six marked locations within the greater Los Angeles County. Movement in between these segregated neighborhoods is not as easily managed, each body a physical marker, each body categorized. Each body is also an individual person, moving through these cultural, social and political expectations.

 Whereas Hollywood has often been a focus in critical cultural theory, absent from the field is a perspective that collages visual image, arts-based ethnographic and autoethnographic narratives, experimental sound, poetry, and performative writing, in order to juxtapose the conflicting and complex performative nature of Hollywood, celebrity, glamour, and sexual agency. Our methodological approach is what we call arts-based autoethnography of place. We collected and storied field notes and informal conversations as well as more arts-based ethnographic data, such as photographs that mark everyday scenes and place-specific phenomena; found sound recordings developed into compositions; collected cultural objects that take collage form to evoke kinesthetic experience; and sketches and paintings that reflect place-specific experiences. The integration of these elements is the creation of this text. We use performative writing, site-specific photography, artistic renderings of place, and found sound recordings. The authors, Jeanine M. Mingé and Amber Lynn Zimmerman, map sexual agency in Los Angeles and intend for this work to be a model of the ways in which traditional ethnographic research methods can collage and collide with visual, aural, and aesthetically driven texts to create a holistic and embodied arts-based autoethnographic text.

Arts-based Autoethnography of Place: 

  • Found Object Collage: Collision of site specific found objects, personal narrative, photography, poetry, and mediated imagery that holistically draws the reader into each place. By Jeanine M. Mingé
  • Found Sound Compositions: Site specific found sound, compiled and composed y sound that holistically draws the reader into each place. By Michael Deragon. 
  • Photocollage: Site-specific photographs compiled and collaged. By Jeanine M. Mingé
  • Maps: Mixed media and digital collages that were created to mirror the travel routes, the essences of each chapter and each specific place. By Amber Lynn Zimmerman
  • Mobility Images: These mobility images introduce the complex and isolating process of travel in Los Angeles. By Jeanine M. Mingé

About the Routledge Innovative Ethnographies Series

No longer unsecure about their aesthetic sensibilities, contemporary ethnographers have expanded upon the established tradition of impressionistic and confessional fieldwork to produce works that not only stimulate the intellect, but that also delight the senses. From visual to reflexive ethnography, from narrative to arts-based inquiry, from hypertext to multimodal scholarship, and from autoethnography to performance ethnography, fieldwork has undergone a revolution in data collection practice and strategies of representation and dissemination. Innovative ethnography is a catalytic field of experimentation and reflection, innovation and revelation, transformation and call to action. The new Routledge Innovative Ethnographies book series publishes fieldwork that appeals to new and traditional audiences of scholarly research through the use of new media and new genres. Combining the book and multimedia material hosted on the series website, this series challenges the boundaries between ethnography and documentary journalism, between the scholarly essay and the novel, between academia and drama. From the use of narrative and drama to the use of reflexivity and pathos, from the contextualization of ethnographic documentation in felt textures of place to the employment of artistic conventions for the sake of good writing, this series entertains, enlightens, and educates.

Series Editor: Phillip Vannini, Royal Roads University, Canada

For questions about proposal submission contact:

​Editorial Reviews

Concrete and Dust is a haunting excavation of identity, geography, and sexuality told in multiple literary genres and artistic media. The scholarly insights are deep, the artwork profound, and the cautionary tales—for women, ecology, and relationships—are frighteningly rich. This is a work that deserves to be carefully read, studied, and emulated for its artistry and critical acumen. Minge and Zimmerman have set a new bar for performance and ethnography, and it’s very, very high.
- Elizabeth Bell, Women's and Gender Studies, University of South Florida

In Concrete and Dust, feeling and vulnerability, courage and agency intersect and ooze from every page. This innovative arts-based autoethnography of place blends performative writing of personal stories, poetry, art, and theory, to fully engage readers in sights, sounds, tastes, bodies, identities, relationships, and spaces where sensuality is performed, negotiated, inhibited, and revealed. This exemplar is sure to inspire students in my graduate autoethnography classes to consider heretofore unimagined possibilities of evocative and sensuous autoethnographic scholarship.
- Carolyn Ellis, Communication, University of South Florida

Minge and Zimmerman offer an truly engaging autoethnographic journey, one that takes the reader through the communities of Burbank, Chatsworth, Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, and Topanga in Los Angeles to show how the body navigates place, how place can toss the body here and there until it might feel some comfort, some sense of respect, love, and openness. Their compelling account is a display of "sensuous consciousness," an intimate and insightful rendering of a personal struggle in the concrete and dust. This is a journey no reader will regret taking.
- Ronald Pelias, Speech Communication, Southern Illinois University

Concrete and Dust is a provocative and multi-sensory autoethnographic portrait of desire, the sexualized body, memory, power, and place. Using performative writing, soundscapes, collage, mapping, and photographs, Minge and Zimmerman show us the power of living inquiry. They write honestly, viscerally, and sensuously over and on sexual terrains and narrate a search for self, for ease and belonging in our bodies, and for the embrace of home and community.
- Stacy Holman Jones, Communication Studies, California State University, Northridge

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