How should anthropology examine mistakes and what goes awry? What can failing bring to the practice of ethnography? In this panel, we seek to explore the issue of 'failing' in a range of ethnographic contexts and reflect on mistakes' productive potential for anthropology as a discipline.
Drawing upon a recent renewal of anthropological interest in serendipity and uncertainty, we wish to examine the topic of mistakes, errors and failings. What theoretical and ethnographic insights can be gained from paying close attention to things gone awry? We seek papers examining specific instances of botches, bungles and blunders from a wide range of ethnographic contexts (from failed states to medical oversights, failed asylum claims to slip-ups in ritual practice). In the light of recent reflections on ethnography's 'field of screams', we seek contributions which also address the issue of failing and mistakes with regards to ethnographic practice. For instance, in contrast with the figure of the omniscient and purposeful ethnographer, what could be the contribution of mistakes to the practice of ethnography (and its teaching)?