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Accepted Paper:

Who is the anthropologist here? The politics of fieldwork in Diyarbakir, Turkey  
Leyla Neyzi (University of Glasgow)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I use my research with Kurdish youth in Turkey to argue that contemporary anthropology must point not away from but towards a discussion of the historical and political context which shapes both the positionality of the anthropologist and the production of anthropological theory.

Paper long abstract:

The turn towards extreme abstraction associated with the obsession with (a particular kind of) theory in anthropology is doing a disservice to what anthropology does best: long-term fieldwork based on intimate relationships with informants. Anthropological classics have long demonstrated that anthropologists’ concepts tend to derive from analytical discussions with informants in the field. Some of the most compelling new ethnographies—theory from the south—are by anthropologists whose ties to the societies they study are multiple and complex. This paper will analyse the violence that necessarily provided the starting point in my relationship with potential informants as an academic from Istanbul working with Kurdish youth in the unofficial capital of Turkey’s Kurdish region, Diyarbakir. Highly sophisticated politically, these young people challenged my authority, making it clear that any research to be carried out would be subject to negotiation. In effect, they positioned themselves as akin to anthropologists in so far as they themselves were engaged in analysing and representing their individual and collective experiences. I contend that the ongoing debate over the responsibility of anthropology points not away from but directly towards a discussion of the historical and political context which shapes the positionality of the anthropologist and the process by which anthropological theory is produced.

Panel Speak07a
Responsibility as critique. Reimagining the political in the ethnographic encounter I
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -