Env06
When reality challenges our expectations: trajectories and transformations in ethnographic research, conservation and heritage ethnographies

Convenors:
Amélia Frazão-Moreira (CRIA-NOVA FCSH)
Hannah Parathian (CRIA-NOVA FCSH)
Discussant:
Humberto Martins (UTAD / CRIA-UM)
Stream:
Environment
Location:
Aula 20
Start time:
15 April, 2019 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

The panel focuses on the trajectories and transformations of ethnographic research in environmental anthropology; how conservation, the heritigisation of "culture" and "nature" and other processes, define local realities in unpredictable ways, redefine our ideas, and shape our approach to fieldwork.

Long abstract:

Guided by theoretical frameworks and informed by peer-reviewed studies the "well-prepared" researcher heads to the field, often ill-equipped for the realities that emerge. Textbook theories and value assumptions are challenged when complexity rears its ugly head as a tangible and key component of local realisms and people's lives. Veritably, the interests of community groups are diverse and variable, contradicting characteristic worldviews and value systems. For example, local people may lead efforts towards the commodification of nature and culture through tourism and trade, while under different circumstances indigenous groups grapple to protect their traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. In some communities, conflict breaks out over the management of natural resources and wildlife mitigation, challenging the regulations and quotas set by governing authorities. On other occasions, individuals offer their support in favour of the changes brought about in the name of biodiversity conservation and through the creation of protected areas. Such conditions highlight the unpredictability complexity and transient nature of people's relationships with the environment. These ideas challenge disciplinary conventions and bring into the forefront the need for interdisciplinary knowledge and a mixed-methods approach to research in environmental anthropology. We invite environmental ethnographers to reflect on transformations in their own work as a result of their in-depth observations and experiences in the field. We encourage researchers to present revelations in their research, and to track the development of their thoughts, ideas and knowledge production, not in an emotional sense but focusing on methodological and theoretical processes and means.