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Committee as Witness

Ethics Review as a Technology of Collective Attestation

Rachel Douglas-Jones


This article explores the ethics review committee as a contemporary witness to the conduct of biomedical research. Ethics committee work is an internationally growing form of deliberation and decision making, a technology of anticipation that grants researchers access to experimental spaces, research funds and publication venues. Drawing on ethnographic work with a range of ethics committees across the Asia-Pacific region, I explore the metaphorical extension of logics of seeing into bureaucratic forms of ethics review. My analysis untethers the witnessing voice from an individual ‘point of view’, focusing on the attestive assemblage and its documentation. By exploring the committee as a form of collective attestation, I aim to show witnessing as a form of ethical work, for ethical ends.

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Containing mobilities

Changing time and space of maritime labor

Johanna Markkula


This article uses ethnography from onboard container ships to show how seafarers as a workforce at the center of global capital circulation are increasingly confined inside their mobile worksites. Drawing on theories of the transformation of time and space as internal to the logic of globalization and capitalism, the article argues that the increased mobility of goods, as facilitated by developments in maritime logistics, has decreased the mobility of the seafarers in charge of moving these goods across the world. The article proposes “containing mobilities” as a term for thinking through the particular contradictions and inequalities of mobility that shape the everyday life of the workers at the heart of the global system of mobility and transport that constitutes the maritime supply chain.

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Cross-Border Cultural Cooperation in European Border Regions

Sites and Senses of ‘Place’ across the Irish Border

Giada Laganà and Timothy J. White

The growing interaction between local cultures and international organisations suggests the need for peacebuilders to act strategically when trying to overcome cultural differences and build trust in societies long divided by bloody conflicts. This task is more difficult because the mental barriers that divide people and cultures are exacerbated by borders and walls. Through an analysis of the evolving role of the European Union (EU) in peacebuilding in the border region of Ireland, this forum contribution examines the potential of international organisations to enhance reconciliation by creating new cultural opportunities for cooperation. Existing scholarship focuses mainly on policy initiatives, strategies, directives and funding bodies, often failing to mention how theories are deployed by practitioners especially in the realm of cultural programmes.

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David Farrell-Banks

Right-wing populist, nationalist and extremist groups frequently make discursive use of the past to support their political agenda. This contribution briefly examines the use of the 1683 Siege of Vienna in political discourses. It shows how certain parts of European heritage are mobilised globally to present a singular view of European identity as white and Christian. This identity is constructed in opposition to a Muslim and migrant ‘other’. The contribution shows that this notion of European identity is used not as a call for European unity, but to serve nationalistic needs when utilised by far-right groups. Moreover, this piece calls for greater recognition of how heritages are mobilised across borders in the interests of advancing a politics of exclusion and division.

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Philip McDermott and Sara McDowell

Does cultural heritage create either bridges of engagement or walls of division within and beyond Europe? To capture these diverse interpretations, we provide some initial discussion on the concept of heritage and how this relates to identity, memory and the past. In order to introduce the various studies that comprise the forum, we identify a series of collective themes explored by our contributors. These are: the use of heritage sites and practices as a means of exploring questions of European unity; the idea of a decolonizing heritage alongside the reframing of contested transcultural encounters; and finally, the potential for heritage as a form of conflict resolution.

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Daring spaces

Creating multi-sensory learning environments

Sabine Krajewski and Matthew Khoury


In this article, we argue that physical rooms cannot be replaced by virtual space without literally losing the student's body and that experimenting with rooms and active learning is imperative for improving and advancing students’ learning. Our case study offers insight into a ‘soft room experiment’ without hard furniture or audio-visual equipment at one Australian university and makes recommendations that will be useful in many other educational environments. Our qualitative research project is based on feedback from students and staff as well as on class observation. Findings show that learning spaces need to be designed with appropriate pedagogies in mind, be multi-functional and ideally also multi-sensory.

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Digital and Offline

Partial Fields and Knowledge Producers

Narmala Halstead


Partial processes of knowledge making, online and offline, demonstrate modes of experiential newness. Indicative of the ‘shocks’ and joined curations of field encounters, such experiences re-engage anthropological debates as being of the present. The extended field suggests vast change and unlimited spaces to engage participants and ‘invite’ new unrelatable publics. The reflections and encounters disturb an apparent mandate of digital anthropology as a sub-discipline to ‘upturn’ field and knowledge approaches. As these forum articles indicate, this vision of the field is not easily dissociated from continuities with participants as knowledge producers in and out of offline interactions. Notions of exit and entry or participants gaining seemingly unlimited new access to fieldworkers remain connected to performative/curated forms of field relations, while attuned to an ongoing ethnographic present.

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Jason Bartholomew Scott


In an era when grassroots activism is defined by the use of social media, the democratic potentials of the Internet are constantly confronted by a shifting set of practical and political obstacles. Organizations seeking to abolish violent policing, for example, use social media to mobilize widespread support, but can fail to solidify lasting influence within government institutions. Similarly, twenty-first-century ethnographers have gained the ability to interact with grassroots organizations over social media, but often fail to gain insight into a movement's internal politics or day-to-day struggles. This article focuses on the challenges of anti-violence activists in Brazilian favelas following the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The author explores how ethnographers can create a sense of continuity out of digital failure.

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Hubert Wierciński

This paper explores the problem of knowledge and knowledge making among Polish primary care doctors. Following Kirsten Hastrup and Tim Ingold, I argue that doctors are skilful social-weavers capable of exploring and reconciling various orders of knowledge. Thus, through a diverse set of knowledgeable yarns – originating from professional and state regimes, and embedded in today’s social relationships and economies – doctors are involved in the art of weaving a fabric composed of many, it would seem, contradictory orders of knowledge. The fabric in question is one in a constant state of reworking – although it is one that establishes a meaningful and knowledgeable environment in which the doctors can perform.

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Penny Welch and Susan Wright

In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, authors from a range of academic disciplines – music therapy, political geography, social policy, international communications and law – explore some contemporary concerns in higher education.