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Carceral Repair

Methane Extraction in Lake Kivu, Rwanda

Kristin Doughty

Abstract

This article, based on ethnographic fieldwork in 2016–2019, examines methane extraction operations in Lake Kivu on the Rwanda/DRC border as a lens into understanding how energy futures in Africa are imagined and enacted within national projects of post-war reconstruction. In 2005, scientists suggested that the lake's dissolved methane risked oversaturation within the century. This spurred state-backed projects to simultaneously prevent a natural disaster and harness the methane to meet Rwanda's rising electrification needs. Two companies are currently building and operating methane-fuelled power plants. The article suggests that these energy projects, an integral part of the overall architecture of social repair in Rwanda, reproduce and generate forms of captivity and entrapment that are central to understanding the lived politics of ‘carceral repair’, a generation after genocide.

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Erik Bähre

to Suriname to do fieldwork among the Ndyuka. He studied the Gaan Gadu (Great Father) oracle and other religious movements and explored how people struggled to gain control over others, but also to control their own lives. He found that changing

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Peter Anton Zoettl

In the north-east of Brazil, the last decades have seen an unfamiliar phenomenon: the rise of 'new' indigenous groups in areas that were long considered as 'acculturated' by both the state and public opinion. In their pursuit to be recognized by the authorities and by fellow non-Indian citizens, these 're-emerging' Indians have continually carried out a peculiar re-construction of their 'image' as Indians, torn between romantic ideas of Indianness and the demand to integrate fully within national society. Drawing on recent fieldwork experience with a group of Pataxó Indians in the state of Bahia, the article discusses how the visual-anthropological method of participatory video can be used as a means of reflecting on the importance of images within identity-formation processes of minority groups. By producing a video about the tourists who visit their Indian village and nature reserve, the Pataxó came to question the stereotypic use of images and the relation between the Other's notion and their own representation of 'Indianness'.

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Jonathan Skinner

Thursday, 11 August 2005. Killing time, I visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. This is coming to the end of a tour of the Arthur Murray dance studios up and down the West Coast. It is a hot break coming at the end of a month’s dance fieldwork in Sacramento. Rather than fly back to Belfast from San Francisco, I opted for LAX and bookended my research with a personal journey driving up and down the state. I had gone up through Death Valley where I had solo hiked into the desert and made a souvenir vial of Death Valley sand. Then inland north to get through Yosemite, living in my rental car, sleeping in motels. Back south, I was sampling the dance studios along the coast—waltz in San Francisco, rumba in Hayward, foxtrot in Redwood City, tango in San Jose, salsa in chic Santa Barbara, merengue in Beverley Hills. Along the way, I was taking in the tourist attractions: the boardwalk in Santa Cruz where the movie Lost Boys was filmed; Cannery Row, Monterey, described long ago by John Steinbeck; Hearst Castle, which had inspired Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.

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Gauging the Mood

Operationalizing Emotion through Ethnography

Brian Callan

This article illustrates a case study of an ethnographic research project in order to highlight the processes by which the project thesis emerged, the form of the knowledge on which it is based, and the relationship of that form of knowledge to other disciplines. The case-study is part of a larger ethnographic research project based in Jerusalem area between 2011 and 2012 on the sociality and affective processes involved in what is normally referred to as pro-Palestinian activism. Current anthropological concerns and debates are highlighted and discussed by following the ethnographic process from the development of a proposal based on a perceptual model of affect (Damasio, 2000), to ‘learning with people’ to the fieldwork phase (Ingold, 2008), to the analysis, interpretation of findings through the intersubjective faculty of judging (Arendt, 1968). Specifically, this work aims to clarify the form and validity of knowledge produced by an ethnographic engagement with phenomenological theory. Using an extract from field notes, from which I developed a thesis on role of weirdness in dissent, I highlight the intersubjective and emergent nature of knowledge production in ethnography through the development of trusting relationships with participants and the generative tensions and possibilities of being a researcher while also becoming an activist. In this process, the knowledge produced represents neither the participants’ nor the researcher’s understandings of the world but resides in what Arendt called a ‘third position’. Such a method of knowledge production should also be apposite to interdisciplinary exchanges within academia."

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Josiane Tantchou

The aim of this study was (a) to use anthropological research tools to produce a thorough description of health providers' working conditions in a low-income country; (b) sketch the impact of a specific dimension of the national HIV/AIDS programme on this environment and (c) sketch the existence and examine the extent of burnout among health workers. We conducted intensive fieldwork in a large public hospital in one major town of the far-north region. We relied on three research tools: observations, in-depth interviews and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The data were analysed manually. We found a working environment characterised by an acute lack of equipment, lack of recognition and equity, lack of community and fairness, and value conflict, all of which are factors implicated in burnout. This was exacerbated by the implementation of a psychosocial dimension in care for people with HIV/AIDS, which created exclusion and reinforced feelings of unfairness. However, despite their challenging working environment, health-care providers were not 'burned out', leading us to suggest that burnout is a syndrome of 'rigid' working environments, as opposed to 'porous' working environments.

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Making (a) Difference

Paperwork and the Political Machine

Alexander Thomas T. Smith

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Dumfries and Galloway, this article describes how Conservative Party activists put a variety of discursive artefacts to work as they sought to mass produce and distribute leaflets during the 2003 local Government and Scottish Parliament elections. The leaflet, called In Touch, rendered explicit the need to demonstrate that a political candidate and political party are connected (in touch) with a wider community. This leaflet was therefore designed to invoke a set of connections between person (the candidate), place (the Council Ward/community) and political party (the Conservatives) that might register with even the most disinterested elector. At the same time, the production of these leaflets facilitated the generation of an activist network amongst the party's volunteer base, which exhausted itself by the time Polling Day passed. I argue that addressing logistical and organizational questions - that is, activist methodology - in the production of the In Touch leaflet focused the attention of political activists more than the 'issues' on which they intended to campaign, which were 'found' or 'produced' as artefacts or contrivances of activist labour. In addressing such questions, Tory strategists hoped to 'make (a) difference' given that they tended to view previous campaigns to have been executed in an amateur and disorganized fashion. Through the sheer scale of their production and distribution throughout Dumfries and Galloway, it was hoped that the In Touch leaflets would produce social as well as electoral effects.

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Engaging in 'Engaged' Anthropology

Some Pitfalls in a Development Consultancy

Pat Caplan

What does it mean to do engaged anthropology? How is it different from that which is disengaged? Does it mean being some kind of activist or advocate? Is it a form of 'action research'? More pertinently for the purposes of this article, are anthropologists who do consultancies also 'engaged'? This article discusses what happened when in 2003 I accepted an invitation from a Scandinavian women's organisation to go to Tanzania the following year and take part in an evaluation of the women's group they had been funding. Here I consider not only some of the perhaps inevitable pitfalls, contradictions and difficulties of carrying out such a consultancy but also the extent to which anthropologists themselves are part of the encounter and thus inevitably part of the material of fieldwork. It is shown that being an engaged anthropologist is a risky business before, during and after such projects. This does not mean that engagement should be avoided, and indeed such a stance may provide exceptional insights which one of greater detachment might miss.

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Changes in the Weather

A Sri Lankan Village Case Study

Mariella Marzano

As the impacts of climate change are expected to increase, there is growing concern in development contexts over how best to assist the poor and vulnerable to adapt to such changes whilst ensuring environmental and livelihood security. Climate variability is a persistent and progressively more worrying feature in the everyday lives of individuals and communities in rural areas around the world and there is a pressing need for comprehensive knowledge of the complex relationships between humans, and between them and their environment. Thus there is a growing movement towards bridging the gap between top-down decision-making and more grassroots approaches that encompass local knowledge and experiences. Drawing upon fieldwork in Sri Lanka, this article examines the potential of taking an indigenous knowledge research (IKR) approach to understanding local adaptation to climate change, specifically how local people are adapting their livelihood strategies to what they perceive to be increasing variability in weather patterns. It also explores the prospect of indigenous knowledge networks as vehicles for rapidly sharing information and building links between policy making and local reality.

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Jonathan Parry

This piece tells the story of a disturbing episode in the author's relationship with the field. Though the details are unique, the kind of ethical dilemmas it documents must be in some form or other part of the experience of a great many anthropologists – though such stories are seldom set down in print. These dilemmas include the balance we strike between participation and observation, and between the moral commitments we have as private individuals and our (no less moral) commitment as anthropologists to report on our ethnography in as impartial and objective a way as is possible. Central to this particular story is the anthropologist's relationship with his research assistant over more than two decades, and it tells of the latter's involvement in various human rights campaigns, his arrest, imprisonment and on-going trial on vaguely specified charges. I reflect on the way in which these events have affected my subsequent fieldwork and on the way I have written up. It is the story of a friendship and of a genuine intellectual collaboration between the anthropologist and anthropologist's research assistant that is probably not so uncommon but is seldom fully reflected in the ethnographies we read.