Special Theme
Ethno-graphic Collaborations: Crossing Borders with Multimodal Illustration

Collaborative Experiments in Graphic Ethnography: Emulating Political Cartooning

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent
DOI: https://doi.org/10.51002/trajectoria_022_05
(Published March 31, 2022)


This article provides insight into the usage of political cartooning as a graphic-ethnographic medium. I narrate how I emulated the style of a Greek political cartoonist from the mid-20th century to draw graphic panels with commentary about austerity in 21st century Greece. The graphics worked as a storyboarding method for setting up a theatre performance that never happened. The immediacy of drawing enabled the anthropologist and playwright to conceptualize their respective projects and clarify their ideas through collaborative dialogue. They used their respective arts (ethnographic drawing and play script writing) to draw analogies with the past, aiming to raise awareness about the consequences of austerity for contemporary youth. Emulating the style of a renowned cartoonist, who had criticized post-war austerity in the 1950s, has paved the way for generating critical responses from the ethnographer’s interlocutors in the present.
Key Words graphic ethnography, political cartooning, collaborative ethnography, austerity, temporality

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Our research on the consequences of austerity in Greece and Portugal was supported by United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Research grant ES/L44588//0.
From the same project emerged articles that included experiments with graphic ethnography. See for example, Theodossopoulos, D. 2016. Philanthropy or solidarity? Ethical dilemmas about humanitarianism in crisis afflicted Greece. Social Anthropology 24 (2), 167–184.. [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1469-8676.12304/];
Theodossopoulos, D. 2020. ‘Iphigenia’s sacrifice: generational historicity as a structure of feeling in times of austerity.’ The Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute 26 (4): 842-863. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13419
Theodossopoulos, D. 2020. ‘Solidarity dilemmas in times of austerity: Auto-ethnographic interventions.’ Cultural Anthropology 35 (1): 134–166. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca35.1.10.
See a forthcoming section of Theorizing the Contemporary, in Cultural Anthropology.
Mentis Mpostantzoglou was a Greek cartoonist born in Instanbul in 1918. His full name was Chrysanthos Mentis Bostantzoglou (Greek: Χρύσανθος Μέντης Μποσταντζόγλου). He died in December 1995. The Greek public recognized as Bost (Μποστ).
See, for example, (a) Sutton, David. 1998. Memories cast in stone: the relevance of the past in everyday life. Oxford: Berg. (b) Knight, Daniel. 2015. History, time and economic crisis in central Greece. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
See, (a) Knight, Daniel & Charles Stewart. 2016. Ethnographies of austerity: temporality, crisis and a.ect in Southern Europe. History and Anthropology 27, 1-18. (b) Palmié, Stephan & Charles Stewart. 2019. Introduction: The varieties of historical experience. In The varieties of historical experience (eds) S. Palmié & C. Stewart. London: Routledge.


Knight, D.
History, Time and Economic Crisis in Central Greece. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Knight, D. and C. Stewart
Ethnographies of Austerity: Temporality, Crisis and Affect in Southern Europe. History and Anthropology 27(1): 1-18.
Palmié, S. and C. Stewart
Introduction: The Varieties of Historical Experience. In S. Palmié and C. Stewart (eds.) The Varieties of Historical Experience. London: Routledge.
Supon, D.
Memories Cast in Stone: The Relevance of the Past in Everyday Life. Oxford: Berg.
Theodossopoulos, D.
Philanthropy or Solidarity? Ethical Dilemmas About Humanitarianism in Crisis Afflicted Greece. Social Anthropology 24 (2): 167–184. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1469-8676.12304 (accessed November 1, 2021)
Iphigenia’s Sacrifice: Generational Historicity as a Structure of Feeling in Times of Austerity. The Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute 26 (4): 842-863. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13419 (accessed November 1, 2021)
Solidarity Dilemmas in Times of Austerity: Auto-ethnographic Interventions. Cultural Anthropology 35 (1): 134–166. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca35.1.10 (accessed November 1, 2021)


Dimitrios Theodossopoulos