Accepted Paper:

Anthropologist or migrant? Positioning and cultural intimacy in the field  

Author:

Marek Pawlak (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper aims to explore the relations between particular categorization of Polish migrants in Norway and the dynamics of researcher’s (self-)positioning in the field. Drawing on Herzfeld’s concept of ‘cultural intimacy’ I will attempt to present the complexity of doing fieldwork among co-ethnics.

Paper long abstract:

After Poland's accession to the European Union in May 2004 a considerable number of Poles left the country seeking for employment in Western Europe. Many of them decided to stay and settle in, while some - after achieving their goals - returned to Poland. Others, however, found themselves caught between countries and started living intense mobile lives. Post-accession Polish migration - characterized by heterogeneous migration flows (unskilled and semi-skilled migrants, students and recent college graduates seeking short-time employment, young professionals wishing to start a new career or set up their own business, and intergenerational families), high levels of mobility (transnational and circular migration), and variegated settlement patterns - have had a significant impact not only on how migration is researched and theorized, but also how it is perceived and understood in the public discourse.

The paper therefore aims to explore the interdependencies between particular categorisation of Polish migrants in Norway, its impact on collaboration and the dynamics of anthropologist's (self-)positioning in the field. Drawing on Michael Herzfeld's concept of 'cultural intimacy' I will attempt to present that conducting a fieldwork among co-ethnic migrants poses significant questions that often seem to be neglected: What is the impact of categorisation and labelling on the research? What is the relation between anthropologist, co-ethnic migrants and the host society? How does the host society perceive anthropologist? Is a researcher categorise as a migrant or perhaps not? And in what terms, on the other hand, do migrants describe anthropologist, who is of the same ethnic background?

Panel P069
Moving people: anthropologists adopting, interrogating and refuting governmental categorisations (ANTHROMOB)