Endangered Fieldwork

A joint seminar with the Association of Social Anthropologists and the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Deadline: 1 December 2019
Date of event: 19 March 2020

The traditional model of long-term fieldwork, at the heart of social anthropological practice for much of the twentieth century, appears to be endangered. It is increasingly difficult to gain fieldwork permission in many countries where anthropologists have formerly worked. Doubts surround the viability of participant observation in the light of regulatory frameworks, frameworks that may appear to demand compulsory open access of fieldwork data, and knowing the questions in advance that will be asked by the fieldworker.

Furthermore, some areas of the world are simply dangerous in a physical sense. Is it feasible to overcome such challenges? How can institutions authorise researchers at whatever stage of their careers if conditions in the field are very uncertain? What kind of methodological revisions might we consider when adjusting our own practice to take into account changing conditions?

The RAI, in conjunction with the ASA, invites papers from those who would like to discuss these topics, which remain relevant and pressing, even if increasingly a matter of comment and debate. Abstracts, which should include a title and be approximately 150 words, may address the topic from any point of view, and may include descriptions of difficulties encountered, reflections on existing approaches or reflections which have been held concerning this problem, as well as suggestions as to the best way forward in the future.

It would be most helpful to receive abstract proposals by 1 December 2019, so as to allow those attending to plan ahead. The seminar will take place at the RAI’s rooms in 50 Fitzroy Street. There is no conference fee, and refreshments will be provided on the day.

Abstracts should be sent to admin@therai.org.uk, as should any informal inquiries.

David Shankland, Director, RAI
Nigel Rapport, Chair, ASA