Accepted Paper:

Anthropology I am, serendipity I search, intellectual corruption I suffer  

Author:

Sverker Finnstrom (Uppsala University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper sketches potentials for ethnographic writing, but also harsh realities of funding that tend to corrupt the anthropological mind. In defense of an engaged and global anthropology, my intervention deals with the question how to keep thinking anthropologically despite corrupting realities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper sketches potentials for ethnographic writing, but also the harshly uncertain realities of projects and academic funding that tend to corrupt the anthropological mind. In defense of an engaged and truly global anthropology, perhaps my intervention more than anything else deals with the question how to keep thinking anthropologically despite unstable academic realities. Following a well-known anthropological line of thought, I see ethnography as both process and product, and to be able to capture lived moments of global coevalness, fieldwork and writing-up are intertwined processes, with research interlocutors as coauthors, not only in the phrasing of their stories, but more, in the analysis itself. This is an anthropology that brings worlds together, and to speak from a personal anthropological horizon as a Swede with fieldwork experience mainly from war-torn northern Uganda, the phenomenology of war in Uganda is just as European in character as it is African. Here is an anthropology not in search for final answers, but one that asks questions to enable further and, so we can hope, better questions. Such anthropological openness, a Malinowskian legacy really, is built on the serendipity of never-ending conversations that potentially suspends conventional restrictions of time and space. Yet anthropological serendipity with its disrespect for borders and boundaries does not really pay off with most research agencies, because it goes against the misplaced certainty as expressed by the very idea of "a project" - the idea of a distinctly defined "field" framed by a clear beginning and an even clearer end.

Panel W092
Anthropological writing in a time of uncertainty: career, control and creativity