Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Contribution:

Between concealment and exposure: who holds the right to ‘alter-naming’ the ethnographic partners? On the petty politics of pseudonymization  
Sara Bonfanti (University of Genoa)

Contribution short abstract:

Only through a continuous bargaining of how far our interlocutors’ identities ought to go public, building on the (always skewed) reciprocity which is embedded in the field, anthropology could stretch its much claimed ‘reflexivity turn’ towards a more egalitarian engaged scholarship.

Contribution long abstract:

This argument starts by re-interpreting the use of pseudonyms in anthropology as a different practice than other anonymization procedures. As per formal definition (EU-GDPR 2016), pseudonymous personal data is still personal data, since inadvertent breaches to ‘additional information’ can lead to the identification of the individuals concerned. Besides, pseudonyms ought to be more than a laconic note in ethnographic works, bearing the mark of a sustained collaboration between researcher and researched, of which the fictional element is part-and-parcel.

As a critical migration scholar, and dedicated ethnographer of mobility experiences with South Asian diasporas, I will briefly expose my predicaments in coming to terms with pseudonymization: beyond routinary requirements imposed by funding agencies, after due negotiations with my informants case by case. Whether collecting life-histories, making participative ethnographic films, or co-authoring peer-reviewed articles, I argue that there is no one-size-fits-all to the quandary of ‘alter-naming’ our research participants. Contradictory benefits and perils can emerge both from concealing and exposing the factual identities of those who co-produce ethnographic knowledge with the anthropologist in the field.

At a time when the (social) media and ‘big data’ storage put at stake any given protocol, I hold no conclusion. Instead, within this roundtable, I wish to discuss my provisional conviction that it is only through a continuous bargaining of how far our interlocutors’ identities should go public, building on the (always skewed) reciprocity which is embedded in the field, that anthropology could stretch its much claimed ‘reflexivity turn’ further, towards a more egalitarian engaged scholarship.

Roundtable RT09
Rethinking Pseudonyms in Ethnography
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -