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Open access

“I Showed You What I Thought Was Appropriate”

Reflections on Longitudinal Ethnographic Research and the Performativity of Dutch Gang Life

Robert A. Roks

Abstract

This article highlights some aspects of doing longitudinal ethnography in criminology. By zooming in and reflecting on some of the key moments and methodological choices made over the course of more than 15 years of fieldwork among members of a Dutch gang, this article illustrates that relations with informants have the potential to strengthen over time, but that building rapport and trust with (active) offenders is not necessarily a linear process. In addition to voicing the emotional and evocative aspects of these methodological deliberations, this “true confession” is meant to spark some more debate on how longitudinal fieldwork in criminology impacts field relations by critically examining not only the performativity of informants, but also of researchers.

Open access

Introduction

The Longitudinal Ethnography of Violence

Lidewyde H. Berckmoes, Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard, and Dennis Rodgers

Abstract

While many anthropologists have previously reflected on longitudinal ethnography—for example distinguishing between different categories of longitudinal research, including the ethnographic revisit, either by the same or another researcher, diachronic research projects, involving continuous and sustained engagement over time, or so-called large-scale or multigenerational projects, among others—there has been little reflection on the way particular topics of research might impact on the longitudinal research process. In particular, we argue here that the stakes of longitudinal ethnographic research come to the fore particularly starkly in relation to studies of violence. More specifically, longitudinality potentially both enhances certain risks inherent to carrying out research on violence, while also offering unique opportunities for better understanding the phenomenon more reflexively.

Open access

Introduction

Experiential Landscapes of Terror

Sunčana Laketa, Sara Fregonese, and Damien Masson

Abstract

This special section addresses how the spatiality of terrorism and security responses mobilize and impact the realm of experience. The articles presented here expose how terrorism is encountered as a felt experience by urban residents in Europe through an analysis that encompasses several realms including the body, the intimate, the domestic, and the urban public space. These works develop existing scholarship on the European urban geographies of terrorism, by looking beyond established approaches to normative range of actors and infrastructures that underlie terrorism and counter-terror security responses, and by exploring the fine-grained connections between felt experience, urban space, and global politics. Moreover, in focusing on the experiential landscapes of terror, we start exploring geographies where healing, trust, and societal reconnection can be imagined in the wake of terror.

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Listening to Terror Soundscapes

Sounds, Echoes, and Silences in Listening Experiences of Survivors of the Bataclan Terrorist Attack in Paris

Luis Velasco-Pufleau

Abstract

Listening experiences provide valuable insights in understanding the meaning of events and shaping the way we remember them afterwards. Listening builds relationships with places and subjectivities. What kinds of relationships and connections are built through listening during an event of extreme violence, such as a terrorist attack? This article examines the relationships between sound, space, and affect through an acoustemology of Bataclan survivors’ sensory experiences of both the terrorist attack and its aftermath. I draw on the testimonies of nine survivors of the Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris, which unfolded on the evening of 13 November 2015 during a rock concert, as well as interviews with three parents of survivors and victims. This article explores how the study of listening experiences and aural memories of survivors contributes to understanding mnemonic dynamics and processes of recovery related to sound following violent events.

Open access

Shockwaves

Atmospheres beyond the Conflict City/Ordinary City Divide

Sara Fregonese

Abstract

Urban conflict literature has attempted new comparisons between contested cities in conflict zones and cities with no armed conflict. This literature tends to use representational frameworks around defensive planning and normative government discourses. In this article, I propose to expand these frameworks and to engage with epistemologies of lived experience to produce new relational accounts linking “conflict cities” with “ordinary cities”. The article accounts for the lived, sensory and atmospheric in exploring the legacies of conflict on the everyday urban environments. It then reflects on the everyday and experiential effects of counterterrorism in ordinary cities. While this is designed to minimize threat, it also alters urban spatiality in a way reminiscent of urban conflict zones. It then explores the unequal impacts of counterterrorism across urban publics, and their experiential connections with practices of counterinsurgency. The article is structured around two ‘shockwaves’ entwining lived experiences across seemingly unrelatable urban settings.

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The State of Emergency at Home

House Arrests, House Searches, and Intimacies in France

Flora Hergon

Abstract

This article focuses on the massive house searches and house arrests that occurred during the state of emergency in France between 2015 and 2017. It draws from critical studies on counterterrorism as well as sociology of the intimate to analyze the aftermath of these measures on the Muslim households that experienced these procedures without being sentenced afterward. It examines how house arrests and searches redefine the respondents’ relationships to their domestic space and local environment as these places become spaces of fear, surveillance, discipline, and self-control. The analysis reveals a set of embodied and discursive strategies to prove an innocence that implies a reappropriation of state categories around social integration and the promotion of an acceptable and non-suspect religiosity.

Open access

Telling Tales?

Subjective Ethnography and Situated Narratives in Longitudinal Research on Violence in Nicaragua

Dennis Rodgers

Abstract

The ethnographic representation of violence is a controversial issue, involving debates about (avoiding) sensationalism or (acknowledging) emotionality, for example. Less considered is how the subjective nature of ethnography and the fact that ethnographic narratives are always situated can have ramifications for both interpreting and representing violence, particularly in the context of longitudinal ethnographic research. Drawing on my investigations into Nicaraguan gang dynamics begun in 1996, this article explores the subjectivity of the longitudinal ethnographic experience of violence both in and out of “the field” through three specific examples. These highlight in different ways how ethnographic understanding is highly situational and time-bound, meaning that longitudinal research is particularly prone to episodes of discomfiting conceptual disjuncture. At the same time, it is precisely this that arguably imbues it with exceptional power and insight.

Open access

Times of Violence

The Shifting Temporalities of Long-Term Ethnographic Engagement with Burundi

Simon Turner

Abstract

Over the past two decades, I have done ethnographic fieldwork amongst Burundians in Burundi and in exile, exploring the different ways they deal with the violence that the country has witnessed over the decades. In this article I follow my tracks back and forth and in and out of the country, reflecting on the advantages and challenges of long-term engagement. At a conceptual level, I propose that while violence is indeed lodged in a social context, violent events create a momentary temporal rupture, thereby dislodging meaning from its local context of understanding. My methodological contribution is to explore how long-term engagements, revisits, and diachronic comparisons in ethnography may help us understand violence and violent events. I explore how violent events have affected the past, the present, and the future, causing those who experience it to reorient their understanding not only of their pasts but also of their anticipations for the future.

Open access

“What about Last Time?”

Exploring Potentiality in Danish Young Women's Violent Conflicts

Ann-Karina Henriksen

Abstract

The article explores how violence as actuality and potentiality shapes the lives of Danish at-risk girls and young women. The article draws on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork in Copenhagen and includes 25 girls and young women aged 13 to 23 who have all experienced using physical violence. Centering on a single young woman's narrative, violence is analyzed as a meaningful social practice intimately linked to navigating violent social terrains and managing precarious everyday lives characterized by instability and marginalization. Drawing on the concept of potentiality, it is argued that violent interactions are shaped by both the fear of oncoming danger and the desire for powerful social positions. This perspective opens a micro-longitudinal perspective, which explores situational dynamics of violence through time, hereby contributing to micro-sociological studies of violence.

Open access

Amy Binning

Abstract

Tibetan Buddhist prophecies of decline are largely unattended when it comes to practitioners’ lived experiences. This article considers such narratives through a focus on a community of American Buddhists in California. The relationship between Buddhist narratives of degenerating future and the American landscape is played out through the creation and distribution of sacred objects, which are potent containers for—and portents of—prophetic futures. Ruptures in time and landscape become, through the frame of prophecy, imaginative spaces where the American topography is drawn into Tibetan history and prophetic future. Narratives of decline, this article argues, also find common ground with salient American rhetoric of preparedness and are therefore far from fringe beliefs, but a more widely available way of thinking through quotidian life.