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Researching against the grain: correspondence and conflict between individual representation and the anthropological metanarrative I 
Karen Lane (University of St Andrews)
Emily Mannheimer (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
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Who Speaks and for Whom?
Tuesday 30 March, 9:00-10:30 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

Anthropological study of (post) conflict situations focusing on victims/perpetrators, causes & consequences leads to a dominant metanarrative. But some dwell in the interstices of these conflict narratives. How are these muted or silenced voices represented? Who is researching against the grain?

Long Abstract

Anthropology recognises a responsibility to give voice to oppressed, ignored, and silenced peoples. Individual anthropologists take seriously their ethical responsibilities; the discipline is renowned for detailing everyday lives and to nuanced analysis; and working collaboratively affords new avenues of knowledge-production. But where does responsibility lie in the discipline’s contribution to academic metanarratives? Working with people in conflict societies usually entails studying victims and perpetrators, analysing causes and consequences. Even in post-conflict situations the same populations are ubiquitous as a focus of study. This can lead to unintentional stereotyping of conflicted places where conflict becomes the anchor point to which everything else responds. Who speaks up for those who dwell in the interstices of these narratives? Who is researching against the grain? What collaborative, local and institutional challenges do they face?This panel explores the unexplored in societies affected by conflict and interrogates rigorously anthropology’s responsibility – or not – to dominant disciplinary discourses; on the ontological, epistemological and ethnographic challenges in choosing with whom we work, who represents them and how. What is the role of the researcher in perpetuating stereotypes of conflicted places? Are anthropologists (un)wittingly drawn to ‘the exotic’? Is ethnographic seduction at play? How may we challenge dominant modes of academic thinking about conflicted societies? Is focusing on the causes and effects of conflict anthropological virtue signaling? Is there an unsaid but understood institutional taboo on which topics are ‘unacceptable’ – to institutions, to funders, to policy-makers? This panel seeks ethnographic and theoretical papers on these and related topics.

Accepted papers:

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