Experiencing Derrida through a Communal Friendship

Zrinka Mendas


The purpose of this paper is to present two interlinked issues: an exploratory field study into friendship in rural and remote island communities of the Zadar archipelago and the usefulness of an ethnographic storytelling approach to the academic research.

It is widely acknowledged that remote and rural island communities face many obstacles; an ongoing litoralisation, emigration, a fear of losing the identity and a creation of the ghost villages. The study reveals how friendship emerges as a fundamental behavioural trait amongst the members of our rural island community. At the first sign, it appears to be an unintentional effect of the nature; as a bare necessity of survival, which precedes any personal emotional attachment or choice. Later, it descends into the intentional one, “be a human”, an act of friendship that is often forgotten but necessary for creating the self-sufficient communities. Friendship, seen as a communal friendship in this sense, becomes the choice of survival for the island communities. It has a socio-economic value. Viewing friendship as such, arguably, is useful in better understanding what drives a sustainable economic development that is crucial to the survival of the remote and rural island communities.

Through the ethnographic storytelling, the paper discusses the usefulness of ethnography as a Critical Theory, focusing particularly on a better understanding of the terrain in the field research. How to translate the terrain is open to various interpretations. Drawing on the field experience, this study explores the terrain of the relationships within the island communities. This terrain could be seen as a spatiotemporal circumstance and this includes considering the historical, socio-economic and cultural aspects of the terrain in question. The study also addresses some translation issues with the help from the storytelling. Stories, visual and oral, are presented as acts of friendship as they happened. They enrich our understanding of the terrain and help us to decide on our own terrain. In this sense storytelling and ethnography co-exist, and as such, they allow us to gain the insight into the intangible aspects that are otherwise difficult to capture with the conventional research techniques, hence the term an ethnographic storytelling.



island community, ethnography, friendship, storytelling, terrain, sustainable development

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