Accepted Paper:

Investigate the informal market of pharmaceuticals in Cotonou (Benin): between suspicion of treachery and fears of witchcraft  


Carine Baxerres (LPED IRDAix-Marseille Université)

Paper short abstract:

This talk will be on the method of the anthropological research on health. It will describe the interrogation that participative observation raises towards a field in which economical and legality/illegality issues are strong. It will lead to the question of the interest of this old research method on the contemporary topics of modern anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

Through this talk, I will present the fussy field of research that was the wholesale center of informal drugs in Cotonou, located in the big international market of Dantokpa. After a brief presentation of the informal market of drugs in Benin and its issue for the sellers towards which I was investigated and for those who struggle against it, I will explain how I negotiated my entrance and stay in this specific research field. Then, I will describe tow steps of this participative observation: the time of the "euphoric empathy" and this of the "generalised mistrust". Afterwards, I will try to analyse this field from reflexions around the research method of the participative observation: question of length, of the lack of background of the anthropologist learner, of the frenzy to ask always more question -even disturbing ones- to be sure of the research results, of the required empathy and the lack of reciprocity of the interest… I will finish this presentation relating the "final crisis" which leads to the "exit" from the field and I will conclude by telling that this study, to my point of view, is scientifically a good one but that it brings affective consequences for the researcher learner.

Panel W037
Medical anthropological fieldwork: ethical and methodological issues