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We’re at all your favourite anthropology conferences! We’ll be at the ASAs in September, the AAAs in November, and AAS in December, funding provided. If you would like to organise a TNE panel, meet up, or spread word about the cause at a conference we don’t know about or can’t attend please get in touch.

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

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Association of Social Anthropologists Annual Conference

3-6 September 2019, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Panel B07, Room 04, 9:00-10:30, 11:00-12:30, 14:00-15:30

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. 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. Precarity and harassment of anthropologists are often not addressed in journals, lectures, and fieldwork training, 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, but a precious and continuous part of their lives. This panel aims 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. We will explore 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) new challenges and opportunities in anthropological research in the 21st century.

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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

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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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.