Accepted Paper:

What are you really looking for? Doing ethnography under the (feeling of being under) surveillance  


Anna Zadrożna (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I ask how (the feeling of) being under the surveillance influences the ethnographer, her research process and the knowledge she produces as a writer. I reflect on how to find a balance between the representativeness of research, ethics and safety.

Paper long abstract:

Reliability and trustworthiness during the fieldwork have been one among the main research problems since ever. In particular areas of conflict or heightened political tensions the question of trust may become an ethnographer`s nightmare: seen as a spy, an agent, or simply a suspicious person, the ethnographer may become a subject of investigation. Even if she/he is not really being tracked or controlled, the feeling of being under a suspicious eye certainly brings discomfort to her/his work.

In this paper I ask how (feeling of) being under the surveillance effects the ethnographer and her fieldwork. How it influences her relations with the informants, her behavior, and the knowledge she produces? Basing on research carried out in western Macedonia and Istanbul I broach issues such as: (political) correctness towards various institutions, loyalty towards the informants and ethnographer`s own comfort and safety. Considering the ethnographer herself as captured within different institutional networks and dependencies I contemplate the intersection between ethics, "truth", representation and knowledge. Are there spaces and issues that should be silenced or "carefully represented"? Who decides on what can be written or not? Why was my field sensitive and problematic?

Panel P085
Under suspicious eyes: surveillance states, security zones and ethnographic fieldwork