Accepted Paper:

Risk regimes and research relations: ethics, ethnography and a moral economy of care  

Author:

Rosita Henry (James Cook University)

Paper short abstract:

With reference to a field school in Papua New Guinea in 2016, this paper explores the burgeoning bureaucracy of ethics review and risk assessment within the corporate University and its implications for fieldwork in spaces that are stigmatized as ‘dangerous’.

Paper long abstract:

Ethnographic research regarding many different social situations around the world is becoming heavily burdened by a burgeoning bureaucracy of institutional ethics review and risk assessment. Risk management regimes in particular constrain researchers from working in field spaces that deemed 'dangerous' for various reasons. Papua New Guinea, which generated numerous classic ethnographies during the 20th Century, and was a popular field site for many a student anthropologist is today stigmatized as too 'dangerous' a place to conduct ethnographic research, especially for women. With reference to an ethnographic field school I ran in Papua New Guinea in 2016, this paper explores risk assessment within the corporate University and its implications for fieldwork in 'dangerous' spaces.

I explore the politicized relationship between risks and rights and examine the responsibilities of care that are levied on both researchers and research participants. I argue that interrogating the neoliberal risk regime requires taking into account cultural variation in what counts as danger and exploring the different moral economies of care that are at play in our various field spaces.

Panel WIM-HLT05b
Moving moralities: anthropological fieldwork and risk in a violent world