WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn110 )

Traversing Changing Contours of Anthropological Fieldwork, Ethics and Principles

Organizers

    Teresa L Khawzawl

    India

    Cotton University

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Gangotri Bhuyan

    India

    Pragjyotish College, Gauhati University

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Rashmi Upadhyay

    India

    Aarhus University, Denmark

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Anthropology of Pandemics

Keywords:

Fieldwork, ethics, digital ethnography, transition, Covid_19

Abstract:

Fieldwork is considered as the ‘crowning jewel’ of Anthropology. In the words of Margaret Mead (1964:5): ‘We still have no way to make the anthropologist except by sending him into the field- this contact with living material is our distinguishing mark’. Fieldwork for decades has marked how anthropologists do anthropology, living with the people, sharing their lives, trying to understand the ‘natives’, tribal peoples with different cultures, lifestyles and worldview. Critics from the 1980s have, however, questioned on writing, authorship and the way in which fieldwork itself is conceived. In addition, it is without doubt that the natives, tribals, society, villages that anthropologists have for long visited, lived in and studied are also transitioning and changing in the wake of globalization and other factors combined. The Classical way of conducting fieldwork by visiting and staying in the field faced a number of challenges especially during and post-pandemic Covid-19 as anthropologists were compelled to resort to various mediums from digital ethnography to conducting fieldwork from afar. In this regard, the panel brings forth their own experiences from fieldwork in community preparedness, challenges and responses to Covid-19 in India, as well as among the coal mine workers in India and Nepal. Ethical concerns arose along with the changes in conducting fieldwork. What Malinowski says about describing daily life, the imponderabilia of actual life stands at the crossroad. Thus, questions like - Are anthropologists able to conduct fieldwork the classical way? What is the preferred way of conducting fieldwork in the present scenario? What are the innovative methods anthropologists use? What is the changing nature of fieldwork practice? How does changing fieldwork reflect on anthropological methods of data collection, analysis and writing up/down? What are the ethical issues that concern current anthropological research and many more require deeper deliberations. The panel, therefore, seeks from the scientific community, essential questions and reflections on this ever-evolving contours of fieldwork, dilemma faced, ethics and principles that permeate research in various sub-fields of Anthropology.