Ethn03
Intimacy & information: dilemmas of power, trust and property in the informant encounter

Convenors:
Carmen Cummings (Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation)
Timothy Pilbrow (First Nations Legal & Research Services )
Chair:
Carmen Cummings & Timothy Pilbrow
Discussant:
Jaap Timmer (Macquarie University)
Stream:
Ethnographic theory and practice
Location:
Babel 106 (Middle Theatre)
Start time:
3 December, 2015 at 11:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Although often romanticised, fieldwork situations frequently confuse and compromise participants on all sides. This panel invites case studies of specific informant-anthropologist relationships through which issues such as power, trust, and intellectual property may be explored.

Long abstract:

Interpersonal relationships are simultaneously method, tool and data for the anthropologist. While shared experiences and conversations may develop ease between informant and researcher, fieldwork situations can also confuse and compromise participants, on both sides. Further, the practice of ethnography may lead anthropologists to feel 'torn between their research commitments and their desire to engage authentically with those people whose worlds they have entered' (Emerson, Fretz & Shaw 1995:20). Social inquiry thereby poses a myriad of ethical as well as intellectual demands upon the researcher. Within the conference theme, this panel seeks to explore the moral questions entailed in the informant-anthropologist relationship which may be effaced from written ethnographies. Case studies of specific informant relationships are invited, ranging from the harmonious and fruitful to the awkward, perplexing and even disastrous. Through these, contributors are encouraged to examine moments of connection and disjuncture as they played out in real time, and offer reflections on issues such as power, trust, and intellectual property which frequently underlie decision making in the field. Papers from any geographical area or field of anthropology are welcomed.