B07
The new ethnographer: facing challenges in contemporary fieldwork

Convenors:
Keiko Kanno (University of Oxford )
Anya Evans (London School of Economics)
Stream:
Identities and Subjectivities
Location:
Room 04
Sessions:
Thursday 5 September, 9:00-10:30, 11:00-12:30

Short abstract:

This panel invites contributions to explore how fieldworkers can envision and conduct more compassionate research practice for both themselves and the communities we work with.

Long abstract:

Over a decade ago, Amy Pollard's 'Field of Screams' (2009) highlighted that ethnographers returning from fieldwork with different kinds of trauma was emerging as ubiquitous rather than exceptional. Fieldworkers are often almost entirely responsible for careful planning to reduce potential risks and treatment for unforeseen issues, which may impact their long-term career and mental and physical health and wellbeing after fieldwork. Precarity and harassment of anthropologists are often not addressed in journals, lectures, and fieldwork training, and such experiences or ways of managing them remain unknown to many prospective and even experienced fieldworkers. Ethnographers have struggled to move away from past attempts to separate 'emotion' from 'data' in what Foley calls 'a somewhat schizophrenic manner' (2002:474), including the emotions embedded in their own lives and relationships in the field. Many researchers do not consider their fieldwork years as a rupture from normal life in isolation, but a precious and continuous part of their lives. This panel aims to provide with opportunities to discuss how anthropologists can envision and conduct more compassionate research practice for both themselves and the communities we work with. We will explore 1) harassment, exploitation, and vulnerability of researchers and their resistance 2) prevention and treatment for unforeseen circumstances, greater empathy, and compassion for what it means to face challenges in ethnographic research 3) effective planning, risk assessment, and ethical clearance for both fieldworkers and research participants 4) new challenges and opportunities in anthropological research in the 21st century.