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Accepted Paper:

Dancing with informants: the participant observer versus the observing participant  
Jonathan Skinner (University of Surrey)

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at the various positions taken by anthropologists 'with respect to' their informants. In particular, this paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of the assumed 'observing participant' positionality as described by Daniel in her ethnography of Rhumba: Dance and Social Change in Cuba and developed further in subsequent dance anthropology texts.

This paper looks at the nature of working over an extended period of time with social dance informants, studying, developing and learning to dance together. The stress upon participation in the 'observing participant' position involves the anthropologist to a greater degree than the traditional 'participant observer' research position. This apprenticeship - mutually engaged - creative learner approach has the potential to elicit the nuances, insights and particularities of the field, but also has the potential to problematise and blur fieldwork experiences and relationships.

Panel W045
Methodologies of participation and engagement
  Session 1