Conflicting Boundaries and Roles: Impressions of Ethnographic Fieldwork in the French Banlieues

  • Luuk Slooter
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


Drawing on extensive ‘fieldwork’ in the Parisian suburb of La Courneuve, this chapter emphasizes the need for ethnographers to provide more details on, and justification of their methods in their publications. First, it discusses the challenge of defining and delineating the ‘field’ and suggests that ‘mental maps’ or ‘narrative cartographies’ are a valuable tool for exploring and decomposing the ‘field’. Second, it reflects on the positionality of the researcher. It shows how the ethnographer can easily become ‘the observed’ (rather than the observer) due to unexpected role ascriptions by informants. These role ascriptions should, however, not be seen as an obstacle to the ethnographic research but rather as part of the core data, revealing the dynamics and policing of boundaries between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luuk Slooter
    • 1
  1. 1.UGlobe, the Utrecht Centre for Global ChallengesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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