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Accepted Contribution:

Razed to the ground: is there anthropology after Mariupol?  
Anna Balazs (University of St Andrews)

Contribution short abstract:

The paper discusses how to approach long-term anthropological engagement with a place when one’s field site is destroyed by war, and limited access to the field makes knowledge production ethically and practically problematic.

Contribution long abstract:

How to do anthropology when one’s field site has been destroyed by war and made inaccessible by occupation forces? How to ask questions from a distance when researcher and interlocutors are irreversibly separated by the expanding gap between their lived experiences? The destiny of Mariupol and its residents has been in the centre of my attention both as a private individual and as a researcher since the start of the Donbas war in 2014. The full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the occupation of Mariupol by Russian military forces has dramatically changed the possibilities of ethnographic research about the city. Some of the major issues that preoccupied the residents before 2022, like the environmental pollution caused by the steel factories, ceased to exist completely with the destruction of infrastructural objects they concerned. Russian occupation authorities and – not insignificantly – the strict risk assessment protocols of Western universities regarding Ukraine made it impossible for researchers to officially visit the field and make sense of the events from a position of shared knowledge and solidarity. Studying the war from a distance feels like an ethically problematic and incomplete form of inquiry. Coming from the above position, I will discuss how to approach long-term anthropological engagement with we lose the ground under our feet, our knowledge becomes outdated and our voice as an ethnographer gradually invalidated by circumstances.

Roundtable RT178
Doing and undoing grounds: rethinking the groundings of anthropocene anthropology
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -