Conferences

We do our best to attend all of your favorite conferences in Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Australia. If you would like to organise a TNE panel, meet up, or spread word at a conference we don’t know about or can’t attend, please get in touch.

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American Anthropological Association Annual Conference

20-24 November 2019, Vancouver, Canada

Roundtable: The new ethnographer: designing new approaches to impediments in fieldwork

12.15-1.45pm Wednesday November 20, 2019, room TBD.

Over a decade ago, Amy Pollard’s ‘Field of Screams’ (2009) highlighted that ethnographers returning from fieldwork with different kinds of trauma was emerging as ubiquitous rather than exceptional. Even ethnographers who conduct research in so-called low- to medium- risk settings face issues related to their safety, ethics, gender, finance, health, and wellbeing in the field. Fieldworkers are often almost entirely responsible for careful planning to reduce potential risks and treatment for unforeseen issues, which may impact their long-term career and mental and physical health and wellbeing after fieldwork. In the process of planning, the main focus is often placed on methods and research participants, instead of researchers themselves even though researchers are especially vulnerable in the field. Preventions and solutions for a better fieldwork experience are often not discussed in academia. For instance, precarity and harassment of anthropologists are often not addressed in journals, lectures, and fieldwork training sessions, and such experiences or ways of managing them remain unknown to many prospective and even experienced fieldworkers. Ethnographers have struggled to move away from past attempts to separate ‘emotion’ from ‘data’ in what Foley calls ‘a somewhat schizophrenic manner’ (2002:474), including the emotions embedded in their own lives and relationships in the field. Many researchers do not consider their fieldwork years as a rupture from normal life in isolation or next to the limit of endurance, but a precious and continuous part of their lives. New approaches that enable fieldworkers to conduct research without sacrifices, compromises, or perseverance would potentially make a significant difference in the experience of fieldworkers. In this roundtable, we explore how the relationship among fieldworks have developed over time and can potentially change over time for more effective communication and better fieldwork experience through building on negotiations, reciprocity, mutual trust, and efficient collaboration. We explore perpetuating and arising issues around safety, harassment, ethics, and mental and physical health and wellbeing of ethnographers. Our discussion topics include but not limited to 1) harassment, exploitation, and vulnerability of researchers and their resistance 2) prevention and treatment for unforeseen circumstances, greater empathy, and compassion for what it means to face challenges in ethnographic research 3) effective planning, risk assessment, and ethical clearance for both fieldworkers and research participants 4) personal safety, security, and crisis management for ethnographers in the field 5) new challenges and opportunities in anthropological research in the 21st century. The aim of this roundtable is to provide with opportunities to discuss how anthropologists can envision and conduct more compassionate research practice for both themselves and the communities we work with.

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The New Ethnographer Challenges in Contemporary Research Workshop

27-28 February, 2020, London School of Economics, United Kingdom

Hosted by The New Ethnographer and the PhD Academy, London School of Economics. 

This two day workshop is to prepare researchers for their fieldwork, drawing on subject areas not covered sufficiently in existing pre-field methods courses. Challenges in contemporary fieldwork are not limited to so-called ‘difficult’ or ‘extreme’ settings, and both researchers and their interlocutors are vulnerable to numerous challenges regardless of where they work. The impact that long term research in the field can take on the health and wellbeing of those conducting fieldwork has led to concern over university preparedness for fieldwork. In the wake of several high profile cases of detainment, torture, and death of doctoral students at UK universities, this workshop is designed to provide students conducting long-term fieldwork with the tools they need to navigate complex research challenges. 

Addressing diverse and intersectional experiences and challenges, this workshop includes a series of panels and interactive sessions on health and mental health, gender and sexuality, ethics, and safety and risk. Each session will be led by a technical specialist as well as experienced post-field researchers and supervisors. Rather than only providing a space for researchers to share their experiences, TNE aims to improve the ways in which conventional methods are taught.

This workshop will provide a dynamic space for pre- and post-field researchers to connect, network, and learn from each other in a safe space. Part of each session will involve working in smaller groups of both pre- and post-field students responding to particular hypothetical fieldwork situations, guided by post-field students and specialists in the fields of gender, ethics, health and safety and mental health.

This workshop offers 30 places for pre-field students, supervisors, and other interested parties on February 27 and 28, 2020. Sign up here.

Attendance is £100 with refreshments provided. TNE prioritises keeping its events as accessible as possible. Please get in touch for advice on funding your participation in this workshop or with any other questions at contact@thenewethnographer.org

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Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future

4-7 June, 2020, British Museum/SOAS/RGS, London, United Kingdom

The New Ethnographer: addressing research challenges across disciplines

For both anthropologists and geographers, fieldwork is often a significant, stimulating, and potentially challenging component of conducting research. While the two disciplines of anthropology and geography have plenty in common, dialogues and engagement between the researchers in the two disciplines about fieldwork methods are still limited. Anthropologist Amy Pollard’s ‘Field of Screams’ (2009) highlighted that ethnographers returning from fieldwork with different kinds of trauma was emerging as ubiquitous rather than exceptional. Ethnographers have struggled to move away from past attempts to separate ’emotion’ from ‘data’ in what Foley calls ‘a somewhat schizophrenic manner’ (2002:474), including the emotions embedded in their own lives and relationships in the field.
Issues such as financial and mental precarity, safety, and harassment of fieldworkers are not often addressed in journals, lectures, and fieldwork training, and such experiences or ways of managing them remain unknown to many prospective and even experienced fieldworkers.

This panel provides a space to discuss challenges faced by geographers and anthropologists and how we can learn from each other to envision a safer, more compassionate, and more effective research in the field. New approaches that enable fieldworkers to research in the field without sacrifices, compromises, or perseverance would potentially make a significant difference in the experience of fieldworkers and our research. We explore perpetuating and arising issues around safety, harassment, ethics, and mental and physical health and wellbeing of fieldworkers in Anthropology and Geography and discuss how we could exchange our fieldwork skills for better fieldwork experience.

Past Events:

European Association of Social Anthropologists Biennial Conference

14-17 August 2018, Stockholm, Sweden

The New Ethnographer: addressing contemporary challenges in fieldwork (lab)

These two two-hour labs will host discussions on the contemporary challenges of ethnographic fieldwork. Researchers’ attempts to talk about their challenging fieldwork experiences are often silenced or dismissed as being the result of bad or unethical practice. This lab opens a space to counter this current institutional silence. Composed of four sections, the lab will host four one-hour discussions on challenges in fieldwork under the themes of: gender; mental health and well being; ethical digital research methods; and safety. We invite non-academics with relevant experience (NGO work, safeguarding training, insurance experts) as well as academics who have conducted fieldwork or have relevant knowledge in gendered methods to participate. Participants are invited to join these discussions having familiarised themselves with The New Ethnographer website and relevant blog entries, and come prepared to discuss the development of new codes of practice for universities. Each lab session will be drawn up into codes of practice to be shared with participants, and disseminated through our professional associations and universities.

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Association of Social Anthropologists Annual Conference 

18-21 September 2018, Oxford, United Kingdom

The New Ethnographer: contemporary challenges in anthropological research (Ant03, Examination Schools Room 11, 9am 21/09/2018)

This panel addresses the body and the mind of the ethnographer, as the site of a diverse convergence of experiences during fieldwork. Although it has been acknowledged in anthropology that our bodies are our tools of research, the impact of this reality on our bodies is under-explored. As multiple layers of violence dominate the sites that many of us choose to study, ethnographers constantly negotiate relationships and positionalities in ways that can put them in danger. While international organisations often have protocols for staff working in difficult contexts, many universities do not. The staff of such organisations praise the freedom of anthropologists to work without security restrictions, and yet this has in many instances led to devastating consequences. Researchers’ attempts to talk about their challenging fieldwork experiences are often silenced or dismissed as being the result of bad or unethical practice on the part of the researcher. Acknowledging that similar protocols would struggle to capture the complexities of ethnographic research, this panel opens a space to counter the current institutional silence on this subject. Building on existing research into the ubiquity of fieldwork challenges (Pollard 2009) and the importance of treating such experiences and emotions with intellectual rigour (Davies and Spencer 2010), this panel asks how our institutions and professional associations could better support researchers experiencing challenges in the field.

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British Society for Middle East Studies Annual Conference

24-26 June 2019, University of Leeds, UK

Panel 1D, Baines Wing G36, 14:00-16:00, Monday June 24

TransPrecarity: the other and white privilege, reflections of doing fieldwork in Egypt post June 30 – Marta Agosti, SOAS – University of London

Bas Enti min Afrika Aslan (But You Are Originally from Africa) – Sandra A. Fernandez, University of St Andrews

Doing fieldwork in war zones of the Middle East; safety, intuition and ethics – Josepha Ivanka Wessels, Lund University

In the time of fear: Navigating and maneuvering the military landscapes – Alaa Moustafa Attiah, American University in Cairo

Researching Israeli illegal settlement in Palestine: deception, risk, health, and the “grey area” – Anya Evans, London School of Economics and Political Science

Panel 8C, Michael Sadler LG10,  16:15-18:15, Wednesday June 26

Doing gender research as a “gendered subject:” challenges and sparks of being a dual-citizen woman researcher in the Islamic Republic of Iran – Rassa Ghaffari, University of Milano-Bicocca

The Politics of Fieldwork: Research challenges and risk in Iran: Coping with shifting red lines and “being there” ― how to navigate a “closed” context – M. Stella Morgana, Leiden University

Rooftop Ecologies: Familial Chaperoning, Social Class Differentials, and Coming-of-age in
Anthropology – Noha Fikry, American University in Cairo

De-centring the Archive in the Middle East: Libraries not Archives – Karim Maged Malak, Columbia University

Moving Towards, Moving Beyond: Navigating Execution Chambers – Amira Mahmoud, American University in Cairo