When considering the ethnographic field, language use has been of continued anthropological concern. Traditional approaches to the field have associated language use with concepts such as place, territory and ethnicity and have tended to bound them within a single site. However, in conditions of increasing globalised mobility, approaches to both fieldwork and language use within the field are changing. Using existing scholarship on minority-language communities in Europe alongside original fieldwork with Somali migrants in Glasgow, this article considers the dynamics of that relationship within the contexts of single-sited, multi-sited and online fields. It finds that, for an inquiry focused on both language use and mobility, established modes of thinking about the field are a methodologically restrictive practice on 'being there'. Instead, the authors argue for rethinking the field as a 'spoken' one where, with language at the fore, emphasis is placed on 'being there'.
From 'Being There' to 'Being There'
Máiréad Nic Craith and Emma Hill
Communities at the External Border of the European Union
This article contrasts the Finnish-Russian and Polish-Ukrainian borderlands situated at the external border of the EU. Based on multi-sited fieldwork, it observes how such EU level development concepts as sustainability and multiculturalism address cultural sharing as well as engage communities. Here everyday border crossings are limited, but the policies and practices of cross-border co-operation seek to produce sustainable border crossings in terms of projects and networking. The negotiations of the EU border by local Polish and Finnish actors reflect co-existing and alternative imaginations of borderland heritage. These heritages seem to suggest the 'right' ways not only for border crossings, but also for addressing the continuity and experience of cultural diversity. It is argued that recollections of borderland materiality in these ceded lands become a means for negotiating cultural borders, and verify the difference between European borderlands and borders.
Comparative silences in British stories of genetic modification
Since the late 1990s genetically modified foods, crops, and products have provoked a great deal of controversy in Britain. This article does not challenge the presence of debate over genetic modification in Britain, but rather calls attention to public silences on genetic modification that have often been overlooked. Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork in two parts of the north of England, I explore the ways in which these silences were not equally present across both fieldsites. I argue that this is partly due to the intersection of local histories with the ideological framing of genetic modification by the British government as a question of and for scientific expertise. I also explore how silence on the topic may be a form of what Sheriff (2000) has termed ‘cultural censorship’. Finally, I discuss the theoretical and methodological difficulties of studying and writing about silence, proposing that silences can importantly highlight issues of political and social salience.
Psychological Testing, Communication and Identity Formation in a Multinational Corporation
The article is based on multi-sited fieldwork in a multinational corporation, where psychological tests were used extensively to facilitate communication and human resource development. The analysis indicates that the test effects were more complex than intended. Their application may be considered as a form of audit that was both individualizing and totalizing. While socio-cultural negotiations reached a level with new common reference points, attention was diverted away from important aspects of the socio-cultural context. Individuals were quick to struggle and assert themselves through the categories of the tests, but at the same time the room for diverse, independent articulations of identity at work seemed to be diminishing. In other words, the application of the tests may have opened some discursive fields, but narrowed others, thus contributing to a form of generification (Errington and Gewertz 2001) and entification (Zubiri 1984) of work identities. These observations give reason to question and continue exploring the effects of psychological typologies in corporate settings.
Time and the Field
Steffen Dalsgaard and Morten Nielsen
Prompted by the postmodern turn in anthropology, ethnographic fieldwork has been subjected to considerable analytical scrutiny. Yet despite numerous conceptual facelifts, definitions and demarcations of 'the field' have remained fundamentally anchored in tropes of spatiality with the association between field and fieldworker characterized as being maintained by distances in space. By exploring and unfolding the temporal properties of the field, anthropology can favorably complement and extend the (spatially anchored) notion of multi-sited fieldwork with one of multi-temporal ethnography. This approach implies not only a particular attention to the methodology of studying local (social and ontological) imaginaries of time; it furthermore unpacks the (multi-)temporality of the relationship between fieldworker and the field. This special issue may thus be taken as a fresh invitation to a temporally oriented ethnography.
Reflections on an Ethnographic Study of Chinese Infrastructural Projects in Mozambique and Mongolia
Morten Axel Pedersen and Morten Nielsen
Based on two case studies of Chinese infrastructural interventions in Mozambique and in Mongolia, this article introduces the notion of 'trans-temporal hinge' as a heuristic methodological concept that brings together phenomena and events otherwise distributed across time. The authors explore envelopes used when paying Mozambican workers at a construction site in Maputo and roads dividing Chinese oil workers and local nomads in southern and eastern Mongolia as concrete manifestations of trans-temporal hinges. In exploring the temporal properties of these phenomena, we define the trans-temporal hinge as a gathering point in which different temporalities are momentarily assembled. As an analytical scale derived from a specific ethnographic context, we argue that the trans-temporal hinge provides a novel and, quite literally, timely conceptual invention compared with other recent methods of anthropological knowledge production, such as multi-sited fieldwork.
Congolese Refugees Seeking Cosmological Continuity in Urban Asylum
evolving diaspora in which people and relationships were often shifted across social and spatial landscapes, this research population could not be approached as a static cohort bound to one geographic setting. I therefore conducted multi-sited fieldwork in
Norwegian hydropower in Turkey
Ståle Knudsen, Ingrid Birce Müftüoğlu, and Isabelle Hugøy
several ways of talking about, implementing, and reporting so-called non-financial matters within Statkraft became apparent to us in pursuing a multi-sited fieldwork across different locations, documents, and websites. It is a complex picture with