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Accepted Paper:

Open data policy and the future practice of anthropology  


Monica Heintz (University of Paris Nanterre)

Paper short abstract:

This paper asks how Open Data policies promoted by plan S at the European level are bound to shape current anthropological practices of data collection and archiving, while still remaining coherent with the anthropologist's ethics and commitment to the communities where data has been co-produced.

Paper long abstract:

In 2018 two European laws intended for the regulation of data accelerate concerns about the ethnographic data archiving and circulation, which the digitalisation process had already started two decades ago. On the one hand Plan S incites at the opening of scientific data resulting from public research and on the other hand the General Data Protection and Regulation act frames the treatment and circulation of personal data- supporting one fundamental requirement in anthropology, that of confidentiality, which pushes towards the quasi-systematic anonymisation of data and its protection. If ethnographic data produced within the ethnographic relation between anthropologists and communities belong to both, how can researchers exercise their scientific duty of making it available according to Open Science principles? Under what juridical, ethical and technical constraints will they work in the future? How are limits to the openness of data negotiated and technically enacted? In order to answer this question, I will draw on a current project initiated on French scientific archives of current and past researchers which brings together researchers, data specialists, jurists and documentalists and deals with limit-cases of ethnographic data that 'resists' being open and shared for ethical, technical or scientific reasons.

Panel P068
Anthropological method(ologies) 30 years on: challenges and prospects in the age of 'safety' and 'big data' [organised with the Arab Council for Social Sciences]