Conversations in the Lobby
SALSA XII Sesquiannual Conference 2019
(Gendered) vulnerabilities and fieldwork
Saturday, 29 June, 9:30-10:30, WMW Forum
Organizers and chairs
Fieldwork, and especially the intensive, immersive, long-term fieldwork characteristic of doctoral
research, is often said to be transformative. It changes us and the way we see the world around us. Yet fieldwork can also involve unexpected, unwanted experiences, that sometimes cut emotionally deep wounds and may have damaging long-term effects. Some, though not all of these experiences may have gendered dimensions and may involve abuses of power, unwanted sexual attention or assault.
To do fieldwork is to render ourselves vulnerable, open to others with all the potential positives but also dangers that this involves. Many of these dangers are written out of post-fieldwork accounts and negative experiences may be hidden owing to shame or researchers’ fear of appearing as failures. Students worry that speaking about these experiences might make them appear academically incompetent or fear being ‘the only one’ who experiences anthropological work as traumatic or challenging.
This ‘conversation in the lobby’ seeks to create a safe and supportive space in which to share experiences, to learn from one another, and start finding ways to address the vulnerabilities and dangers of fieldwork. To get safe, honest, and open discussion going, several senior anthropologists will share relevant personal anecdotes, as well as descriptions of ways some graduate programs are making initial attempts to deal with these issues. We invite you to participate in this conversation in whatever way you feel comfortable: share your experiences in person, or communicate with the organizers in the form of anonymized or fictionalized narratives and indicate whether these can be shared in the discussion.
This conversation is open to all who wish to listen and constructively contribute. Anyone who may wish to make a brief scheduled statement prior to the open general conversation is encouraged to notify the organizers with an indication of contribution type (i.e., anonymous or not).
–Carlos D. Londoño Sulkin (SALSA President 2017-2020), Jeremy M. Campbell (SALSA President-Elect 2020-2023), Laura Zanotti (Secretary-Treasurer 2017-2020), Claudia Augustat (SALSA 2019 Conference Organizer), Juan Alvaro Echeverri (SALSA 2019 Academic Program Chair), Glenn Shepard (SALSA Webmaster).