W005
Reflecting on reflexivity in anthropology and social science

Convenors:
Terry Evens (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Christopher Roberts (Reed College)
Chair:
Don Handelman
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
410
Start time:
28 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This workshop aims to critically assess the theoretical and practical value of reflexivity in the context of social science, especially anthropology.

Long abstract:

In contemporary social scientific discourse, reflexivity has become a lightning rod for polemical debates on diverse epistemological, ontological, aesthetic and moral issues. An ongoing epistemological critique of objectivity in the social sciences has fostered a heightened reflexivity in which researchers turn back on themselves in order to assess the impact of their positions, as experts and socio-political beings, on the subjects of their research. This workshop aims to critically assess the theoretical and practical value of reflexivity in the context of social science, especially anthropology. The principal aim, then, is not to forge a reflexive anthropology as such or to illustrate reflexive analysis in first-order ethnographic research, but rather to scrutinise reflexivity itself, reflexively. The prescriptive theme is that however one comes to terms with the critique of objectivity as a historically specific paradigm, one has to turn the lessons of this critique back on reflexivity itself.