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Canine Connections

Fieldwork with a Dog as Research Assistant

Karen Lane

My research seeks out muted narratives that struggle to be heard in the contested city of Belfast. My dog is one of my ethnographic methods: dog-walking is rarely a direct journey from A to B and she can 'authenticate' my lingering presence in unfamiliar places; she is a gateway to dog-focused communal activities; and her categorisation of people is based on smell, not politics, religion or country of origin. When encountering random strangers with an attractive and friendly dog, her role is obvious: introduction enacted, anthropologist takes over. But does she simply mediate the encounter or does she shape what happens? The relationship between dog and person is reciprocal and the extent to which each actor responds to the other prolongs and moulds the encounter. Can she elicit stories that may not otherwise be told, do more than 'only connect'? This article draws on actor-network theory and cosmopolitanism.

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The Uncanniness of Missionary Others

A Discursive Analysis of a Century of Anthropological Writings on Missionary Ethnographers

Travis Warren Cooper

departure from the missionary compound and founding of the modern ethnographic method. I then work up to the present, not moving in perfect synchronicity with the timeline of anthropological development, but reviewing and analyzing studies in the history of

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Valentina Napolitano

This article analyses how otherness and a politics of affect emerge from the presence of a new Latino migration to Rome, Italy. Looking at processes around Catholic evangelisation and plural migrant itineraries, the paper argues that different and contradictory forces such as narratives of centrality and periphery are mirrored in the presence and history of the Sacred Heart. Exploring and counterposing de Certeau's ideas on migrations and mystics, and the urban as a space of enunciation, I suggest that we should explore a modality of ethnography that combines and mirrors revelatory and analytical apprehensions of the world.

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Cristina Clopot and María Dolores Fernandes del Pozo

Akagawa, Natsuko (2015), Heritage Conservation and Japan’s Cultural Diplomacy: Heritage, National Identity and National Interest (London: Routledge), 227 pp., Hb: €112, ISBN: 9780415707626

Okely, Judith (2012), Anthropological Practice: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Method (London: Berg), 224 pp., Pb: £18.99 ISBN: 9781845206031

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Building Walls, Destroying Borderlands

Repertoires of Militarization on the United States–Mexico Border

Jennifer G. Correa and Joseph M. Simpson


Checkpoints, barriers, surveillance technologies, and military-police enforcement constitute the current stage of militarization on the United States–Mexico border. Previous literature in environmental sociology and United States–Mexico border studies overlooks how militarization ravages communities through its environmental disruptions. Our aim is to identify what we describe as repertoires of militarization used by the state to facilitate militarized buildup and exacerbate environmental degradation in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV). We use ethnographic methods, document analysis, and participant observation to reveal three interrelated repertoires that threaten the environment and the peoples who inhabit it—a violation of international treaties, a waiving of environmental laws, and expansionary law enforcement powers.

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The ethnographic negative

Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity

Bruce O’Neill


Outside the main railway station in Bucharest, Romania, otherwise unemployed day laborers hustle for small change as informal parking lot attendants (parcagii). While their efforts yield numerous ethnographic observations of entrepreneurial activity, these attendants report “doing nothing” day in and day out. This article explores the tension between etic observations and emic feelings in order to ask a methodological question: how can “not doing” and “absent activity” be captured within an ethnographic method primed to observe activity constantly? In response, this article takes inspiration from photography to develop “the negative” as a technique for bringing the impress of absent activity on social worlds into ethnographic view. The intent of this methodological intervention is to open new theoretical lines of flight into the politics of inactivity.

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Douglas R. Holmes

In my work with George Marcus we have sought to develop a particular design of and for anthropological projects that allows ethnography to operate as a means to engage analytical perspectives in the making, perspectives that take form prospectively, perspectives that seek to shape contingencies in, of, and about the future. What this demands is that we build our ethnographic project within pre-existing and/or emerging experiments pursued by our subjects. It further requires that we draw on a range of intellectual modalities that intersect, overlap, or are entirely indistinguishable from “ethnographic” method operating within technocratic and scientific settings. In other words, we seek to enter settings in which the “subjects” themselves experiment creatively with the intellectual exigencies of ethnography.

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Misunderstood, misrepresented, contested?

Anthropological knowledge production in question

David Mosse

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.