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Renouncing the Power of "Asking the Question": A Reverse Ethnography Lab in a Youth Center 
Elena Butti (Graduate Institute Geneva (IHEID))
Carles Feixa Pàmpols (Pompeu Fabra University)
Jose Sánchez García (Universitat Pompeu Fabradepartament De Comunicacio)
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Wednesday 24 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

What if anthropologists gave up the power of asking the question? For this Lab, we invite participants to experiment with reverse ethnography. We will engage with the staff and youth of the Casal dels Infants, who will question anthropologists about our work, ethos and motivations.

Long Abstract:

Much has been written on participatory research as a way of undoing anthropology’s colonial past and proposing more horizontal knowledge-creation. Yet rarely, if ever, do these techniques fully renounce the anthropologist’s power of ‘asking the question’. No matter how much the researcher shares decision-making with participants, s/he is always in the background, weaving together the threads, holding the frame. How would things look like if we gave up this power completely? Would this be desirable? Would it even be possible? For this Lab, we invite participants to experiment with a somewhat daring approach: reverse ethnography. We will do it within the safe and ethical context of an ongoing research project, RASSIF, led by two of the Lab proposers (Dr. Sánchez and Prof. Feixa). Within this project, researchers routinely hold focus groups with the young people within the Casal dels Infants del Raval Youth Programme, and the staff that runs it. The Lab will reverse these dynamics: it will be the staff and youth who, with prior preparation, will question anthropologists. This will be followed by a collective reflection led by the Lab conveners: instead of learning from the answers that people give us, can we learn from the questions they ask us? The Lab will last 1,5 hours and will take place at the Casal dels Infants, at walking distance from the Conference venue. It will accommodate max 20 participants and will be in French. Only youth above 18 will be involved.

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