Lessons from a collective collection: Following an ECRIS fieldwork in Kenya
Yonatan Nissim Gez (University of Konstanz)
Paper short abstract:
I will share experiences from a collective, interdisciplinary fieldwork experience in Kenya (ECRIS), which was conducted in the framework of a Franco-Swiss research project on self-accomplishment and local morality in East Africa (SALMEA).
Paper long abstract:
Collective research in the social sciences often requires grappling with a variety of disciplinary, thematic, and cultural-linguistic differences. In mid-2019, a group of about 20 scholars embarked on a Franco-Swiss research project titled Self-Accomplishment and Local Moralities in East Africa (SALMEA). Early in the project, as part of its team-building efforts, the group engaged in a week-long collective fieldwork in the small town of Nandi Hills in Kenya, which had the intentionally delicate thematic focus of death and burials. The collective fieldwork was designed based on principles outlined by French political anthropologist J-P Olivier de Sardan (1995) and referred to as ECRIS (Enquête collective rapide d'identification des conflits et des groupes stratégiques). The ECRIS approach considers fieldwork as a dynamic learning process, typically involves a multiplicity of sources, and underlines interpretative clashes and misunderstandings as valuable learning opportunities. While drawing on the anthropological literature, the ECRIS approach is suitable for interdisciplinary work—as, indeed, was in our case. In my Pecha Kucha talk, I will present Project SALMEA's ECRIS fieldwork experience, focusing on both the theoretical rationale and the experience itself, including successive stages of data analysis. I will touch on questions of disciplinary complementarity, intercultural research sensitivity, insider/outsider dynamics, and serendipity in the field, as well as modes of collective data interpretation and the challenges of data privacy protection. I will conclude by sharing images from Project SALMEA's online blog, where our team is currently preparing to post results from our ECRIS.
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