Hospitality, dependence and mutuality: negotiating positionality and methodologies in the Middle East

Bethany Honeysett (University of Edinburgh)
Veronica Buffon (University of Exeter)
Room 5
Start time:
14 April, 2015 at 9:15
Session slots:

Short abstract:

We address the dependencies of hospitality for Middle Eastern anthropologies and how this renders the terms of rapid political change. We ask how positionalities form in contexts of mutuality and how collaborative methodology shapes moral and political dilemmas confronted by regional interventions.

Long abstract:

How do anthropologists situate themselves and their work in times of social change or violent crisis? Middle Eastern anthropology is ideally placed for reflexive and provocative considerations of political, moral and historic-global positionality. The challenge lies in extending unique and compelling regional insights to wider anthropological and interdisciplinary conversations. Drawing on discussions of collaborative anthropology (Holmes and Marcus 2008), we suggest that the ethnographer's ongoing dependence on hospitality contains inflections of local and regional symbiosis through the subtle entanglements of narrative, historical consciousness and subjective forms which accumulate in the field. Hospitality as a regional trope brings into sharp focus the mutual defining of boundaries, the situating of selves within world orders and views, with all their incumbent scales and intensities of political, moral and historical interdependence, with beneficial or harmful results. We depend on the hospitality of others, and experience collaborative engagement through tumultuous scenarios and times of continuous uncertainty. Moreover we negotiate within academic institutions methodological conundrums of intervention wrought in the field and beyond. This panel seeks to explore the terms of mutuality by which one is asked to situate oneself within such hospitalities, dependencies and reciprocities. How do these terms stimulate specific forms of 'anthropological sensitivity' and placement? How do these methodological considerations impact on the moral and political dilemmas confronted by the contemporary anthropologist working in the Middle East? Furthermore, how can we extend the specific insights of Middle Eastern anthropology to both wider anthropological and inter- or multidisciplinary conversations on methodological trajectories?