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Limits and luxuries of slow research in radical war: how should we represent perpetrators?

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How can ethnography and principles of “slow research” help make sense of fast-moving battles for truth, attention, and control in digital environments? What are emerging crises of representation and intervention that researchers face when retelling narratives of perpetrators, trolls, or other social media “bad actors”? This essay works through these questions by drawing on 3 years of ethnographic research and policy interventions into the political marketing and its affiliated “fake news” industries in the Philippines. I argue that ethnographic approaches can potentially nuance journalists’ personality-oriented name-and-shame reporting and develop more systemic critique and locally minded interventions. However, we also need a thoughtful reckoning with the limits and luxuries of slow research.

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Thoughtful and clarifying exchanges with Sahana Udupa, Nicole Curato, Shobha Avadhani, Vince Rafael, Lila Shahani, and Clare Amador helped me with this essay.

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Correspondence to Jonathan Corpus Ong.

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Ong, J.C. Limits and luxuries of slow research in radical war: how should we represent perpetrators?. Digi War 1, 111–116 (2020).

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