Dangerous liaisons: sexual violence, reflexivity, and the search for intersubjectivity in the field
(La Trobe University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores experiences of sexual violence in the field in order to interrogate the dynamic tension that exists between the subjects and objects of ethnographic knowledge production.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the reverberating effects of instances of sexual violence that occurred in context of ethnographic fieldwork conducted with Latin American migrants in London during 2007-2008. I explore the experience of sexual assault to achieve three interconnected methodological and analytical ends. First, viewing and indeed presenting myself as a research informant, I seek to investigate the methodological implications of analytic auto-ethnography (Anderson 2006; also compare Ellis and Bochner 2000) and, as Borstein has aptly put it, the harmonic dissonance of what it means to inhabit the field (Borstein 2007: 483). As such this paper highlights the dynamic tension that exists between the subjects and objects of ethnographic knowledge production. Second, I show how the incorporation of what might otherwise be viewed as uniquely personal or private events within public ethnography may provide important analytical insights into the life dilemmas of research participants. This illuminates how received understandings and embodiment experiences of public and private, as largely cultural abstractions, may be profoundly disrupted by critical events. Third, my analysis of sexual violence serves as the basis for exploration of gendered subjectivity and intersubjectivities in the context of Latin American London.
Sex and the field: sex, power, and the production of anthropological knowledge