An attempt at perceiving the ethnography of Michel Leiris through the prism of the programme declarations of Surrealism. Leiris comprehended ethnographic writings in a manner typical for every Surrealist: writing is a form of self-expression as is ethnography. The ethnography represented by Michel Leiris concentrated on a description of the unknown discovered in the known. This is a 'reversed' ethnography since the examined object casts light on the examiner; the otherness of that which is unknown becomes a pretext for self-cognition, for discerning and describing the unknown in us. Ethnography, Leiris seemed to maintain, can (but does not have to) offer hope for discovering some sort of a way of establishing relations with the world which would assist in understanding not the order of the world but its disorder and differentiation; it is also helpful for finding balance between alien elements, mutual strangers. Ethnography is tantamount to manipulating details, Leiris wrote, shifting small registers of reality, noting down thoughts, and documenting the world on innumerable fiches. The essence of all those activities is not a reconstruction of the described. The most important value is reflection: the self-reflection of the subject.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.