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Lecture by Laura Thurmann: Gendered (in)security in ethnographic fieldwork: Building and connecting safety networks

07.02.2023, 6.30 pm
Iwalewahaus and Zoom


IMany university risk assessments, safety trainings, or handbooks about fieldwork safety are based on generalizing ideas about so-called high-risk countries, dangerous places, hostile environments, or risk-prone groups of people. Such approaches often reinforce problematic stereotypes of the people and places researchers conduct fieldwork in. Furthermore, portraying some research projects as risky can also shift blame to those affected by violence in the field.

Based on 18 months of MA and PhD research among UK and German anthropologists, I am proposing a different way of defining (in)security in fieldwork. I am taking a closer look at the question of what constitutes risk and safety in fieldwork contexts and how it is connected to different positionalities and methodologies. While I am focussing on gendered risks, I am also examining how these can be closely interlinked with relationships and power dynamics in the field, as well as with dominant tropes of ethnographic fieldwork. By analysing the networks and practices that contribute to researchers’ safety before, during, and after fieldwork, I am also explaining why it is important to focus on both physical and emotional aspects of security work during the research process.

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