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Accepted Paper:

Navigating contradicting demands about privacy and publicity in a highly mass-mediated sporting world.  
Francesco Fanoli (Independent Scholar)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on my ethnography on làmb (Senegalese wrestling with punches), I’ll discuss some fieldwork and publishing choices that I have made in order to navigate opposing needs. By commenting on some concrete cases, I’ll then contribute to the common discussion on ethics in embodied practices

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on my ethnography of làmb (Senegalese wrestling with punches), I’ll discuss some ethical issues linked to the tensions between privacy and publicity in the politics of ethnographic fieldwork and publishing. While “observant participation” (Wacquant 2004) in embodied activities may facilitate the access to spaces of “cultural intimacy” (Herzfeld 2005), it does not preserve researchers to take responsibility for the choices made in the field and related to their publication strategies. Instead, physical engagement in sporting practices can sharpen some of the ethical dilemmas that ethnographers usually face. In a highly mass-mediated world as that of làmb, practitioners’ self-promotion through the management of their public image is paramount. Since long-term fieldwork tends to reveal the discrepancy between public presentation and practices enacted in situations of “social intimacy”, the researcher has to contend with ethical conundrums (Herzfeld 2005). In my case, on the one hand, the unveiling of this discrepancy could have damaged my teammates public images. On the other, the careful representation of the practices protected to external inspection and the analysis of encompassing cultural arenas could have permitted a critique of power structures and discourses, which contributed to the marginalization of my interlocutors. Conversely, while some wrestlers asked me to publish audio-visual materials as a kind of advertising, those same photos and videos risked reproducing among some European audiences exoticizing stereotypes on the African people. By discussing some choices made in order to navigate these tensions, I’ll contribute to the common reflection on ethics in embodied practices.

Panel Mora07
Ethics of body movements: Scrutinising ethics of sports, martial arts and dance research
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -