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Affective Dimensions of Fieldwork and Ethnography

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  • © 2019

Overview

  • This book illustrates the role of researchers’ emotions in understanding and making sense of the phenomena they study during ethnographic fieldwork
  • It provides sixteen case studies on the relationship between methodology, intersubjectivity, and emotion in qualitative and ethnographic research
  • It highlights ethnographic fieldwork as a kaleidoscope of methods

Part of the book series: Theory and History in the Human and Social Sciences (THHSS)

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About this book

This book illustrates the role of researchers’ affects and emotions in understanding and making sense of the phenomena they study during ethnographic fieldwork. Whatever methods ethnographers apply during field research, however close they get to their informants and no matter how involved or detached they feel, fieldwork pushes them to constantly negotiate and reflect their subjectivities and positionalities in relation to the persons, communities, spaces and phenomena they study.

The book highlights the idea that ethnographic fieldwork is based on the attempt of communication, mutual understanding, and perspective-taking on behalf of and together with those studied. With regard to the institutionally silenced, yet informally emphasized necessity of ethnographers’ emotional immersion into the local worlds they research (defined as “emic perspective,” “narrating through the eyes of the Other,” “seeing the world from the informants’ point of view,” etc.), this book pursues the disentanglement of affect-related disciplinary conventions by means of transparent, vivid and systematic case studies and their methodological discussion. The book provides nineteen case studies on the relationship between methodology, intersubjectivity, and emotion in qualitative and ethnographic research, and includes six section introductions to the pivotal issues of role conflict, reciprocity, intimacy and care, illness and dying, failing and attuning, and emotion regimes in fieldwork and ethnography.

Affective Dimensions of Fieldwork and Ethnography is a must-have resource for post-graduate students and researchers across the disciplines of social and cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, psychological anthropology, cultural psychology, critical theory, cultural phenomenology, and cultural sociology.


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Table of contents (28 chapters)

  1. Intimacy and Care in the Field

  2. Dealing with Illness and Dying

Reviews

“A courageous and intimate book … . It not only provides a collection of personal emotional impressions and reflections of researchers … it also manages to turn these feelings … into a scientific data set that enriches the process of knowledge creation. … The authors thus also present a first approach to a transformation of this very academic culture, which will find fertile ground in recent debates about precarity, decolonization, diversity, and discrimination in the academe.” (Julia Nina Baumann, Anthropos, Issue 117, 2022)

“The book attempts to reach a wider audience by encouraging researchers’ affective reflections in their personal stories and dialogues with participants. … the volume encourages scholars to collaborate and integrate relational methodologies into their research design. … Affective Dimensions of Fieldwork and Ethnography grapples with the interface between emotions and fieldwork and ethnography, sorting out the methodological and epistemological worth of affect in the social sciences, and offering methodological and theoretical inspiration for fieldworkers to incorporate emotions into anthropological research and writing.” (Weiping Wu and Tianyu He, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, January 12, 2022)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

    Thomas Stodulka, Ferdiansyah Thajib

  • Institute of Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, Osnabrück University, Osnabrück, Germany

    Samia Dinkelaker

About the editors

Thomas Stodulka is Junior Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. His work focuses on the interplay between affect, emotion, mental health, stigmatization, childhood, and critical epistemologies. He conducted long-term fieldwork with street-related young men in Yogyakarta, Indonesia between 2001 and 2015, and he has directed international research projects on the role of affect and emotion in fieldwork and ethnography, envy in transcultural perspectives, and critical perspectives on interdisciplinary emotion research and big data. Besides publishing various books, scholarly articles and blogs on these topics, he is the co-founder and co-convenor of the European Network for Psychological Anthropology (ENPA) at the European Association of Social Anthropologists. 

Samia Dinkelaker was Volkswagen Stiftung Research Fellow in the project “The researchers’ affects” at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin. She is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at Osnabrück University and studies Indonesian brokerage of migrant domestic workers to Hong Kong. Currently she is working as a researcher in the project “Welcome Culture and Democracy in Germany – Supporting refugee women*” at University of Osnabrück. Her research interests include global migration studies, migration, care and violence, feminist and postcolonial perspectives on subject formation as well as political affects.

Ferdiansyah Thajib is a Phd Candidate at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. He is also an Associate Scholar at “The Researchers’ Affects” working group. Since 2007, Thajib is a member of KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, Yogyakarta Indonesia. KUNCI is a research collective which focuses on critical knowledge production and sharing through cross-disciplinary encounter, action-research and vernacular education with and across community spaces. His life work is situated in the intersections of theory and praxis, with specific research interests on queer modes of endurance and forms of affective entanglement in everyday life. 


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