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Accepted Papers:

Decolonizing practices in mobility's regimes? Disentangling the epistemological stakes of a troubled fieldwork   

Author:

Viola Castellano (Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper builds on an ongoing ethnography about the effects of the post-asylum phase on Gambian migration and asks what kind of decolonizing anthropological and ethnographical practices are possible when the presence of the researcher in the field conveys multilayered forms of global inequalities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper asks what kind of decolonizing anthropological and ethnographical practices are possible when the presence of the researcher in the field conveys multilayered forms of global inequalities. This reflection is articulated on the first 4 months of a 8 months post-doc fieldwork (half in Italy, half in the Gambia) on the effects of the post-asylum phase on Gambian migration, and relies on interviewees with various interlocutors (35 so far between asylum seekers, Gambian families and youth, NGOs workers and government officers), participant observation in a family of a Gambian returnee and 2 focus groups with students of The University of the Gambia. Forced to use the Central Mediterranean Route because of the almost absent chance to obtain a travel Visa (Gaibazzi, 2014), Gambians became one of the top nationalities applying for asylum in Italy between 2012 and 2018. While the majority of them were not granted asylum in Europe, many others linger in Libya and Niger detention camps thanks to European border's externalization policies. This paper analyzes the weight of my racial, gender, national, past (former asylum worker) and present (ethnographer) professional identity in a fieldwork constructed by a violently unequal and racialized access to global mobility. Wondering how to proceed in the ethnography, I use the question "who is decolonization now" to try to disentangle some of the epistemological stakes embedded in such troubled fieldwork and ask how to critically engage with the geopolitical and historical conjunctures in which anthropological research is produced and consumed.

Panel P021a
Whose Horizons? Decolonizing European Anthropology [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]