'Blurred lines?': navigating professional relationships in the field
Danielle Bradford (University of Cambridge)
Paper short abstract:
My paper examines the way in which perceived 'blurred boundaries' within fieldwork contexts foster a dangerous environment for women and other marginalised identities, and presents suggested guidelines on how such professional relationships should be maintained and managed.
Paper long abstract:
Safety for women and other marginalised identities within the context of academic fieldwork has been a concern for a long time, and since the recent #MeToo movement the extent to which assault and harassment occurs in these contexts — and the widespread, systematic institutional complicity in response to this — has begun to emerge. Significant pressure is now being exhibited towards the organisers, institutions, and universities within archaeology and anthropology worldwide. Often described as an area possessing 'blurred lines' of professional and social relationships between both colleagues and staff and their students, it is vital to both establish reasonable boundaries within fieldwork and to explore the power relations and dynamics that have fostered an environment that potential abusers have been thus far able to exploit. By conducting interviews and gathering survey data from archaeologists' and anthropologists' experiences in fieldwork it has become clear that a combination of being in a foreign environment and living and working in such close quarters with other academics has left many vulnerable to harassment and assault during an experience that should be enjoyable, enlightening, and foster intellectual growth. I conclude with suggested guidelines on how to maintain and manage professional relationships within the field and how to navigate unequal power dynamics that leave historically marginalised groups (particularly young female academics) vulnerable.