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Of scientists, samples and evidence: Observation(s) as the laboratory

Fatima Elfitouri (KCL )
Abin Thomas (University of Edinburgh)
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Short abstract:

This panel takes seriously observation as a site of analysis across the fields of anthropology and geography. The relationship between observation, objects of knowledge and the actors involved through time and space will be explored in this forum.

Long abstract:

In an approach to understand the field of global health as a site of observation, this panel aims to bring together scholars from anthropology of science and human geography from the Global South and Global North. The travel of scientific objects or objects of knowledge is a mutational journey involving experts, their interlocutors and the respective concerns highlighted by these actors. The reflective acts of observation of this traversal has the potential to map the trajectories of objects without omitting the observers from this nexus. Observations are thereby always political. When acted upon and spoken about, the observation of these objects as they migrate, become transfigured into new objects and intellectual projects or acquire a different function all together in relation to the history of science, territory, populations and their claims. Thinking about observation as we observe people who observe the world brings to the fore inquiries about relationality and knowledge production of emergent phenomena. Keeping these narratives in mind, we pose the following themes: • Conceptualising the relationship between different orders of perception; that of the ethnographer, the scientist and the other interlocutors involved. • Interrogating the structurality of observation between scholars, interlocutors and experts. • Exploring the possible ways of understanding the anthropologies of research endeavours. • Analysing the sense of time and its 'doing' in relation to research outputs, deadlines and impacts.

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