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Exploring fieldwork at sea: ethics, practices, and theory 
Montse Pijoan (Independent Researcher)
Christiaan De Beukelaer (University of Melbourne Aix-Marseille Université)
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Christiaan De Beukelaer (University of Melbourne Aix-Marseille Université)
Francesco Colona (Leiden University)
Sarah Rose Bieszczad (Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University)
Jackie Ashkin (Leiden University)
Francesca Goletti (University of Genova)
Isabella De Judicibus (Scuola Normale Superiore)
Richard (Rick) Feinberg (Kent State University)
Montse Pijoan (Independent Researcher)
Thursday 18 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Join our roundtable for an in-depth discussion on the unique aspects of research at sea. We welcome experts with hands-on experience to delve into the ethical, practical, and theoretical dimensions of conducting fieldwork in this distinct environment.

Long Abstract:

This roundtable seeks to bring together researchers with sea-based fieldwork experience for an in-depth discussion on the unique intricacies, challenges, and advantages fieldwork at sea. Conducting research offshore demands a structured approach that aligns with safety protocols and organizational hierarchies typical of the maritime industry. Researchers must obtain approval from their institutions, the vessel-operating maritime company, and ultimately, and the ship's captain who holds final authority once at sea. Securing prior consent from ship crews is often impractical due to last-minute crew changes.

Once aboard a vessel, whether a cargo ship, oil platform, yacht, rescue ship, or fishing vessel, researchers become integral parts of the crew. They participate in safety drills, and sometimes in maintenance, cleaning, galley work, and night watches while contending with challenges like seasickness. This maritime environment is characterized by uncertainty, requiring adaptability to evolving social dynamics and environmental phenomena. Researchers must be prepared for unforeseen circumstances that challenge their initial expectations. Furthermore, the closed shipboard community poses privacy and ethical challenges beyond land-based fieldwork. This unique environment forces us to reconsider the theoretical implications of conducting research at sea, as shipboard communities are not mere miniature replicas of shore-side societies. Instead, they offer insights into broader societal dynamics.

Our objective is to thoroughly explore the ethical, practical, and theoretical dimensions of sea-based fieldwork. We welcome experienced ocean-going researchers to join the discussion and navigate this dynamic environment alongside the panel and aspiring maritime ethnographers.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -