Ethnographies of Blindness: The Method of Sensory Knowledge

Gili Hammer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Engaging with a research population highly sensitive to sound, touch, taste, and smell, and participating in activities that incorporate and emphasize the lived body, my research with blind people has given me an acute sensitivity to the sensory dimensions of qualitative inquiry and led me to critically examine terms such as “participant observation” and the “researcher’s gaze.”1 The opening quote is a snapshot from one occasion that raised my awareness of these topics, when I conducted a research “observation” with my eyes closed. In 2009, during my first visit to a guide dog center for the blind in Israel, 2 I met with an experienced staff person, a blind man in his fifties, an integral member of the training staff who took on the informal role of “gatekeeper” after my request to tour the center.He insisted I articulate my intentions and goals, and was clearly suspicious about the details of my research. After I spent some time with him and tried my best to leave a good impression, the guide made an unexpected offer that asked for a profound methodological adjustment on my behalf, as he conditioned his collaboration with one simple request: that I would be blindfolded for the entire visit at the center and study it through my senses other than sight.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationDisability and Qualitative Inquiry
Subtitle of host publicationMethods for Rethinking an Ableist World
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781317150343
ISBN (Print)9781472432896
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Ronald J. Berger, Laura S. Lorenz and the contributors 2015.


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