Anthropology in Action
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Anthropology in Action

Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice

Editor: Christine McCourt, City University London 

Volume 23 / 2016, 3 issues per volume (spring, summer, winter)

Subjects: Applied Anthropology 

Published in association with the Association of Social Anthropologists’ (ASA) Apply Network

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Cancer the Bogeyman and Me: Reflexivity and Emotion in `End of Life' Research

Fiona M. Harris


This paper explores the embodied nature of training in social anthropology and reveals how, while working in multidisciplinary teams and drawing on research methods and approaches more commonly associated with other disciplines, one might still be `outed' in one's interpretation and analysis. I draw on the experience of working on a project exploring methodological issues and challenges to conducting research with terminally ill cancer patients to reveal the importance of situating ourselves as researchers firmly within the prejudices of our own societies. While personal experience of losing a parent to cancer should have alerted me to other ways of seeing cancer, I was nevertheless obliged to confront sociocultural constructions of cancer and recognise them as my own. Through understanding the power of `imagined experience', I gained further insight into how intersubjectivity and reflexivity are crucial to the research process.

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