Accepted paper:

Reflections on doing anthropological research in the Norwegian Defence for a decade. Challenges, advantages and ethical considerations.

Author:

Nina Hellum (Norwegian Defence Research Establishment)

Paper short abstract:

As an applied researcher in the Norwegian defence, I have experienced challenges, advantages and ethical considerations. Being somewhat of an anomaly in the organisation, maintaining an anthropological identity has been challenging. Not compromising your ideals is a continuing process.

Paper long abstract:

After ten years as an applied researcher in the Norwegian defence, I disclose some considerations here, having a heartfelt wish of "going back to my roots" professionally.

During the last decade, I have conducted several multilocal fieldworks and in-depth interviews in the Norwegian Armed Forces, using the method of participant observation among conscript soldiers in different units and branches. The research project was an assignment from the Ministry of Defence; and the focus of gender and diversity was set accordingly. The research questions and the following results, however, was not, and I have always had the freedom to communicate my findings publicly. The challenge is nonetheless conveying applied written products to the employer, not finding sufficient resources to prioritise communicating results in an academic context.

Military Sociology is a broad discipline, and several military anthropologists join this milieu. However, being assessed in accordance with sociologists using differing methods and theories can also feel anomalous. Working outside the academia, experiencing alienation from recent debates and discourses within the discipline is common. Joining the general anthropological environment for discussions and sharing of knowledge can be productive and fruitful.

In line with the American Anthropological Association's proverb "Do No Harm", I consider ethical considerations to be crucial. Constant awareness concerning possible repercussions of one's own research and how it affects your informants, as well as the community, is of utmost importance. Being loyal towards your informants, valuing and honouring the achieved confidence, must always trump political, financial and policy considerations.

panel P002
The mobility of applied anthropologists: in and out of fields and between jobs [Applied Anthropology Network]