Accepted Paper:

Researching fakes, practicing anthropology out of the corner of the eye  

Author:

Magdalena Craciun (University of Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will present the style of anthropological inquiry forged through attempts at grasping an elusive presence, that of fake branded clothes. Instead of immersing into social worlds, I found myself hanging around, being there and there, practicing an anthropology out of the corner of my eye.

Paper long abstract:

Re-production, a global phenomenon, and re-productions, an ubiquitous category of objects in which fake branded goods nowadays predominate, are morally and legally combated and culturally and socially derided. A researcher interested in fake branding as a material practice and fake brands as a material presence is challenged in various ways. In a nutshell, the ubiquitous becomes elusive, and the anthropologist is suspected of sharing these mainstream attitudes and secretly laughing at and/or condeming people, practices and objects.

This paper will present the style of anthropological inquiry forged through attempts at grasping the elusive presence, all the while fighting against the image of the scoffing observer. In frantic attempts to save my active self, I tried various, mainly unassuming, methods to overcome this status. Instead of immersing into social worlds, I found myself hanging around, being there and there, in Istanbul (the main regional producer), in the "Europa" market on the outskirts of Bucharest (considered the main source of counterfeited goods on the Romanian market) and a provincial Romanian town (chosen for its typical clothing-scape, in which "Europa" clothing predominates).

Anthropological mode of knowing is conceived as relational and performative, that is, gained by way of social relationship and of living our part in a social world. However, there are cases in which being allotted a role is less probable, and, I argue, practicing anthropology out of the corner of the eye is a valid strategy for doing research.

Panel IW05
Local encounters with the global: diversity of anthropological fieldwork approaches in globalization studies