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Negotiating the Field: how do early career researchers (un)do anthropology? 
Meenakshi N Ambujam (Czech Academy of Sciences)
Harshal Sonekar (The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)
Sucharita Sengupta (Calcutta Research Group (CRG), Kolkata, India.)
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Debangana Baruah (University of Goettingen-Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
Sucharita Sengupta (Calcutta Research Group (CRG), Kolkata, India.)
Thursday 18 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Reflecting on the many social relations researchers are embedded in– caste, class, race, gender, sexuality, and more– this panel carefully unpacks what it really means to (un)do fieldwork (and anthropology) from the perspectives of early-career researchers.

Long Abstract:

Inspired by Günel et al.’s (2020) call to reimagine fieldwork practices, this panel addresses the ways in which researchers navigate challenging working environments and fraught positionalities: conducting research 'back home,' yet not quite; navigating identities of caste and privilege; conforming or not to gender roles and gendered expectations; and tackling fieldwork-associated risks. While COVID-19 forced anthropologists to rethink and reconceptualise fieldwork plans, the need to reimagine what constitutes fieldwork and the ways it is 'actually' done and becomes undone is pressing. Despite scholarship's focus on questions of positionality and privilege, discussions around anthropological fieldwork often consider the fieldworker as a privileged yet neutral subject. This overlooks the constellation of social relations and obligations researchers, especially early career scholars, are mapped into, and erases their embodied realities. These complexities complicate issues related to ethics, integration, and immersion, particularly in today's context of rising political divisions, communal conflicts, mistrust, and disinformation. Informed by ethnographic challenges we have faced, this panel asks: how can a more sensitive and honest form of fieldwork be conducted in ways that also consider the embodied experiences of researchers, who may grapple with prejudice and discrimination based on caste, gender, race, sexuality and/or ableism? How may this allow us to advance a more grounded understanding of what it means to do fieldwork and the ways it could be undone? This panel invites papers that problematise the complexities surrounding fieldwork in relation to positionality, integration, immersion, and ethics.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -