Accepted paper:

Intersections of ethnography and evaluation: the role of temporality in revealing disconnections, absences and 'missing out'


Joanna Reynolds (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the concealments, disconnections and absences that arise around the intersection of ethnography and evaluation, and explores how different tempos and temporal expectations mediate and highlight the tensions of this intersection, for both researcher and ‘researched’.

Paper long abstract:

Attempting to align ethnographic practice with a public health evaluation agenda raises a number of tensions, questions and possibilities relating to the kinds of 'knowns' and 'unknowns' that may be produced as a result. Reflecting on experiences of conducting ethnographic research on 'community' alongside the evaluation of a community-led empowerment initiative highlighted what was concealed, distanced or disconnected from my 'gaze' in the field. It also led me to consider how this was paralleled in the experiences and perceptions of disconnection among the 'subjects' of my research - the 'community'. In this paper I will examine how attending, in particular, to the range of temporalities underpinning both the ethnographic encounter and the subject of the research, proved a valuable lens through which to examine the relations and interactions that gave rise to the sense of 'missing out'. The flow of personal tempos, intersecting and diverging from the collective work of delivering the initiative as a 'community', and often conflicting temporal expectations (of progress, of things 'happening' and of research practices) contributed to spaces, relations and experiences of disconnection, for both the researcher and 'researched'. Thus, this paper considers the value of a focus on temporality, how it varyingly unfolds and is experienced in the field, to reflect on how the sometimes uncomfortable experiences of aligning ethnography with evaluation can help shed light on the relations of connection and disconnection at play, for example within a community-led, empowerment initiative.

panel P44
Ethnography and evaluation: temporalities of complex systems and methodological complexity