Author:Antónia Pedroso de Lima (ISCTE-IUL CRIA)
Paper short abstract:
This paper argues that the constitution of certain mutuality is vital to a comprehension of relatedness that aims to escape structural-functionalist perspectives. The argument will be developed based on fieldwork on kinship relations in several social contexts in Portugal during the last 20 years.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will argue that the constitution of certain mutuality is vital for the very possibility of comprehension of relatedness. The heuristic value of addressing mutuality as a method to study relatedness is that these kind of relations are based on a permanent fundamental mutuality of interest and experiences between persons defined as relatives (it asserts what Schneider terms "enduring diffuse solidarity" or what Fortes terms the "axiom of amity"). Therefore these forms of relatedness ought to be expressed and understand only if there is some kind of mutuality between anthropologist and people studied as ethnography itself, relies on the "mutualities" of interlocution and collaboration.
I will develop this argument based on my own fieldwork on kinship relations in several social contexts in Portugal during the last 20 years. Having worked in working class neighborhoods in Lisbon, with elite families and with "new families" in contemporary Portugal I have learned that the only way to make this kin of ethnographic enquiry is based on the construction of a kind of mutuality with the people we are working with. That is the ground on which it is possible to raise an ethical and respectful communication when sharing experiences and feelings from a very intimate dimension of their lives. Notwithstanding, it is the sharing of this intimacy that enables anthropological insight to wider social questions.
New vocabularies of method: experts, ethics and the mutuality of ethnographic fieldwork