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This panel aims to bring together anthropologists and political scientists to reflect on the means of undertaking ethnographic fieldwork within parliaments, which are state political institutions. Its purpose is to prepare a collective publication.
Work on the anthropology of the state represents a paradox in that far more of this research approaches the state from its margins and peripheries than by its centres of power. Some anthropological work on governance has specifically focused on international institutions using ethnographic methods, but it is striking to notice that parliamentary institutions are relatively understudied. Dialogue with political scientists seems obvious when studying such institutions, but epistemological and methodological differences between the two disciplines remain and are sometimes significant. With that in mind, this panel aims to bring together anthropologists and political scientists in order to develop a common reflection on the methods, issues and perspectives of an ethnography of parliaments as well as its broader contribution to the study of governance. Panellists will be especially asked to consider methodological questions related to the practice of fieldwork in such contexts (e.g. access, freedom of investigation, the weight of institutional discourses, the lack of legitimacy of academic perspectives, the relationship between fieldwork and written research, the role of the informal in fieldwork). This panel comes out of an interdisciplinary research group on worldwide parliaments that wishes to be structured, expand and take advantage of the EASA conference to work towards a collective publication (e.g. journal issue or edited volume). The panel might consist of one traditional on-site session and possibly a second, nearly carbon-neutral session in order to open up our questions to further colleagues who are not able to attend the conference in person.