Accepted paper:

Moments of disruption and doing ethnography at policy-making meetings


Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu)

Paper short abstract:

This paper contemplates moments of disruption in cooperation while doing ethnographic studies of Unesco policy-making meetings. The emergent cracks create methodological conundrums which require renewed theoretical approach to discuss the trade of an anthropologist.

Paper long abstract:

This paper proposes to reflect upon methodological and epistemological

conundrums related to the ethnographic study of international meetings for

making cultural policy. It contemplates moments of disruption in cooperation

while carrying out research in the framework of Unesco intangible heritage

programs which engage in arbitrating sociopolitical representation and

cultural expression.

My self-reflexive study will attempt to unravel emerging procedural or

evaluative mechanisms and the entanglement of relationships at play,

particularly moments of disruption in cooperation. This paper aims to

contemplate methodological issues related to an ethnographic investigation

that entails ‘observant participation’ (David Mosse) rather than

‘participant observation’ in highly politicised settings. I shall discuss

the position and trade of an anthropologist in experimental, evaluative and

applied contexts that has to deal with breakdowns and dis-cooperation.

Unesco conventions concerning culture find particular visibility through

their listing systems which draw upon the complex notion of representation.

In order to critically analyse problems arising from prescriptive modalities

and the contingent evaluative judgments, I shall introduce ethnographies of

the assessment process and the emergent relations. An experimental

engagement in a politically loaded collaboration requires renewed

theoretical approach to elucidate a globalised regime of cultural

engineering (Ulf Hannerz).

panel P110
From cracks to breakdown: disruption in cooperation