research of fish and fishing. The river became free of ice rather late that year, and fishing only commenced when there was no ice. On 27 May the researcher started his fieldwork. He had to get to the conflux of Irtysh and Ob’ rivers by boat studying its
Ivan Poliakov’s Collection, 1876
Ekaterina B. Tolmacheva
Anthropological knowledge production in question
This article draws out some of the implications of the fact that what anthropologists claim to know, or want to say, is unavoidably and in complicated ways bound by the ethics of involvement, detachment, and institutional location. I will first consider the increasingly common practice of circulating the output of anthropological research within the social context of its fieldwork, among the various research participants and interlocutors. Second, I will try to account for the sometimes negative reception of ethnographic accounts, especially where the research has focused on organizations (e.g., NGOs), activists, or others professionally concerned with public representations of their work. Third, I will reconsider the notion of “speaking truth to power” by pointing to the unacknowledged power of ethnographic description. Finally, I will suggest that ethical concerns are generated as much by the theoretical framing of research as by fieldwork practice, and that these are matters of choice rather than inherent in the ethnographic method.
Deference and Influence in the Ethnography of Epistemic Elites
Paul Robert Gilbert
Through his enduring efforts to interrogate the regulative ideals of fieldwork, George Marcus has empowered doctoral students in anthropology to rethink their ethnographic encounters in terms that reflect novel objects and contexts of inquiry. Marcus' work has culminated in a charter for ethnographic research among 'epistemic communities' that requires 'deferral' to these elite modes of knowing. For adherents to this programme of methodological reform, the deliberately staged 'para-site' – an opportunity for ethnographers and their 'epistemic partners' to reflect upon a shared intellectual purpose – is the signature fieldwork encounter. This article draws on doctoral research carried out among the overlapping epistemic communities that comprise London's market for mining finance, and reviews an attempt to carve out a para-site of my own. Troubled by this experience, and by the ascendant style of deferent anthropology, I think through possibilities for more critical ethnographic research among epistemic elites.
their own final days of fieldwork. How were your departures? What did you snatch at? What did you take, what did you leave behind? What did you write in your field diary, on the very last page? Did your departure make it into one of your publications
The methodological implications of “studying up” in Pakistan
others. A few nights into my fieldwork, I sat in the smoke-filled home of my informants and new friends, Abid and Kaleem Afridi, in the wealthy Lahori neighborhood of the Defense Housing Authority, Pakistan. Introduced by a mutual friend, the brothers had
Side Stories from Molenbeek, Brussels
market, where I conducted fieldwork for my PhD dissertation, “Crafting Lives in Brussels: Making and Mobility on the Margins.” Out of ten participants, it was these two middle-aged men from Tunisia and Guinea who were eager to tell me their stories. Since
Ethnographic Anxiety and Its 'Telling' Consequences
Liam D. Murphy
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, myriad problems of epistemology and research design confront ethnographers entering the field for the first time. While these often remain a permanently taxing wellspring of frustration and anxiety, their apparent resolution through experience can occasionally lull researchers into a false sense of security in the context of social interaction with field respondents. By exploring an instance in which the author neglected to apply his understanding of the important Northern Ireland phenomenon of 'telling', the article shows how method and epistemology should always be borne in mind during fieldwork situations—even those implicitly discounted a priori as nonethnographic. While such relaxation of self-awareness may precipitate various blunders and ethnographic faux-pas, it also opens up spaces of critical inquiry into the collaborative constitution of selves and others in field situations, and refocuses the ethnographer's awareness of his positioning as an outsider in webs of social activity.
Early Career Medical Anthropologists’ Perspectives on Contemporary Challenges in the Field
Francesca Cancelliere and Ursula Probst
Conrad W. Watson describes fieldwork as ‘a period of particular heightened intensity’ (1999a: 2) in the introduction of Being There ( 1999b ). The authors of this volume were by far not the first, nor the last, anthropologists questioning and
Advice on Digital Ethnography for the Pandemic Times
Being a digital anthropologist who studies health communication, I was immediately aware that the pandemic would make my fieldwork change rapidly. It has suddenly grown in size, intensified, and become more timely and of interest to broader
The Investigation of Refugees’ Mental Distress
ethnographic investigation of crisis should therefore start from the ethnographer's crisis – that is, how fieldwork encounters affect, upset and change researchers. Drawing on those considerations, I analyse Lily's experience of suffering, and of struggle, to