Accepted Paper:

Extending the 'field' online and redefining the meaning of 'presence': the phenomenological possibilities of interview-led research in online remote settings.  
Chloe Curtis (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Using autoethnographic methods to challenge anthropology’s priority of in-person research, I argue that interview-led research in online remote settings can be phenomenologically conducive, can re-evaluate our meaning of ‘presence’, and can extend the research ‘field’ of anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

In a similar vein to anthropology’s focus on participant observation as the gold standard of research, phenomenological methods commonly presuppose entering the research field in-person, forming intersubjective relations with participants, and becoming immersed in a new means of experiencing the world. Remote methods of fieldwork were not what I was trained to believe ‘good’ anthropology or phenomenology would entail. In this paper, I reflect on my experience of conducting remote ethnographic research due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As I remained seated in my chair conducting online video interviews at home, I was constantly haunted by the ghost of ‘armchair anthropology’, concerned about relying too heavily on transcripts, and aware that I was unable to gauge certain dynamics beyond the flatness of my computer screen. However, reflecting on one interview in particular, in which I had a very visceral reaction to their experience of several contraceptive IUD insertions and began to feel faint, I started to re-evaluate the phenomenological capabilities of online and remote research. In this moment, my body and perception of the world was completely reliant on my screen and my participant; a 'fleshly’ participation, a wholly engaged listening and intersubjective connectivity. My experiences were remote and digitally situated, yet were physically present and manifest. Using autoethnographic methods to challenge anthropology’s, and my own, priority of in-person methods, I argue that interview-led research in an online remote setting is conducive to phenomenological possibilities, can re-evaluate our meaning of ‘presence’ and extend the boundaries of the research ‘field’ of anthropology.

Panel P15a
Is the future of fieldwork digital? Digital ethnography beyond the pandemic.
  Session 1 Tuesday 7 March, 2023, -