W037
Medical anthropological fieldwork: ethical and methodological issues

Convenors:
Doreen Montag (Oxford University)
Claire Beaudevin (CNRS, Cermes3)
Discussant:
Deanna Trakas
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
345
Start time:
27 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This workshop is intended for students and young researchers in medical anthropology. It focuses on methodological issues appearing in the field and it will deal with ethical issues raised by fieldwork, including those specifically related to health matters.

Long abstract:

Medical anthropology is challenged methodologically and ethically by its own nature. Research students and young professionals often receive insufficient training in how to deal with international review boards, ethical committees and ethical dilemmas linked to the roles played by researchers in the field. Additionally, first-time fieldworkers often feel overwhelmed by the field complexity and the necessity of writing and organising fieldnotes and diary entries. The workshop will cover these aspects over the course of one day. In the first half of the day we will address methodological issues of medical anthropological fieldwork. Here the focus will lie on writing fieldnotes and diary entries. We will discuss training experiences, strategies for taking notes in different settings and circumstances, and strategies for writing diary entries. In addition, we will discuss whether medical knowledge is a 'necessary' background tool for anthropological research. This will lead us to the special status of 'double labelled' anthropologists? The second half of the workshop will focus on ethical issues of fieldwork and discuss differences between biomedical ethics and anthropologists' ethics. We will also bring up the issue of ethical code implementation for anthropologists, its potential pros and cons. In addition, we will discuss differences of 'epistemological climate' between European countries. Then we will turn to experiences facing different committees around the world and look especially at differences between biomedically oriented committees and others. At the end of this second session, we will discuss ethical dilemmas linked to the roles played by researchers in the field.