Accepted paper:

Collaboration in and beyond the ethnographic field: overcoming epistemic asymmetries through collaborative practices in and beyond residential care settings

Authors:

Leyla Safta-Zecheria (Central European University)
Julie Sascia Mewes (Humboldt University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

The proposed paper looks at how personal files in residential care settings solidify epistemic asymmetries between file producing staff and file object residents and the ways in which these epistemic asymmetries can be overcome through acts of collaboration in and beyond the ethnographic field.

Paper long abstract:

The proposed paper focuses on collaboratively researching the social life of files as epistemic agents in residential care settings as a pretext to render visible collaborative practices in and beyond the ethnographic field. The authors argue that personal files in residential care settings can act in different ways reconnecting the institutionalized person with their pre - institutionalization past, as well as solidifying epistemic asymmetries between file producing staff and file object residents. Acts of collaboration can work to overcome these asymmetries. In the first part of the paper, we explore files as enablers and disablers of connection to the pre-institutionalized past and the ways in which networks of relationships and forms of knowing are enacted through files making absences present in the everyday life of institutionalized people. Furthermore, we look at how the production of files solidifies epistemic asymmetries between professionalized staff and residents by enabling only professionalized staff to produce relevant file-able knowledge regarding the residents. In the second part of our paper, building on the first, we propose to tell two stories of collaboration: the first is the ethnographer's story of collaboration with residents, professionals and files in trying to overcome epistemic asymmetries - in the form of epistemic partnerships. The second is a multi-vocal dialogic tale of rendering visible and explicit scholarly co-laboration between two ethnographers, one that has been in the field and one who is making sense of the practices of collaborating with ethnographic data from afar.

panel F07
Methodography of data practices in STS's ethnographic collaboration and participant observation