Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

How to be an ally? Responsibility and guilt of the anthropologist witnessing violent death  
Pascale Schild (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws on the experience of witnessing a young woman's violent death during fieldwork. I discuss my inability to act as "ethnographic vulnerability" resulting from local power relations. I was forced to experience on my own body the structural violence that shapes my interlocutors’ lives.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I draw on my experience and memories of witnessing how a young woman committed suicide after she was forced into marriage during fieldwork in Pakistani-administrated Azad Kashmir.

While her family claimed that her death was an accident (caused by a broken gas cooker), rumours spread in the neighbourhood that the woman died because she had set herself on fire. Neighbours and friends believed that her suicide was a desperate act of protest against her forced marriage to a paternal cousin, which had taken place only a few days earlier. Despite the rumours, no investigation was taken up by the police. Like most people, I was terrified. I also felt guilty because I could not do anything to bring justice to her violent death. Did I fail to take responsibility as an anthropologist and friend?

I discuss my inability to act as “ethnographic vulnerability” resulting from the local power relations I was exposed to. As anthropologists we are not always in a privileged position to stand up against violence and injustice. In certain situations, we are terrified, paralysed and vulnerable in much the same way as our interlocutors are. It was painful and humiliating to witness my friend’s violent death because I was forced to act in a way I would never have acted at home. In this situation, I was forced to experience on my own body the structural violence that shapes the lives of many of my (female) interlocutors.

Panel Speak02b
After Fieldwork: exploring responsibilities and vulnerabilities of ethnographic research II
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -