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Understanding stories as relational: the human and the non-human

People’s anecdotes, greetings, excuses, lies, jokes, invitations and questions certainly did captivate much of my attention, but so did the stories and narratives visible in gestures, clothing, jewellery and cars, and also buildings, shops, stalls, restaurants and streets. Together, these different entities produce a complex network of human and non-human bodies called Jeppe Street. By noticing, for instance, the cars, who owns the cars, and where the cars are parked, an idea can be constructed about the economic activity in the area, but also the value systems and codes of success which animate the area. This idea, however, can only ever be an impression. Knowledge produced in this project remains uncertain, temporary and contingent. What becomes important is the actual encounter, a process of engaging with bodies. It is important to find ways to navigate through the uncertainties by partaking in the production of relationships. For instance, some days were spent looking at various buildings, as improvised and adapted for small shops as they are. The insides of the buildings themselves, just like stories, keep on changing to the requirements of the situation. This could be followed by going down to the building’s basements and seeing the buying power provided by some of those little shops, the myriads of store rooms and the many different deals. Thereafter, going back up to the street would necessitate a reorientation to a broader flow of people through the area. Other days were spent talking to people, having coffee, making connections, inviting people to come to our shops and events and conversations.

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