Long-term perspectives vs. 'fieldwork under fire'?
Wendy James (University of Oxford)
Do we have to 'be there' to study crises? While fieldwork in war zones is obviously valuable, analysis itself has to be done at a distance. We have accepted the need for 'multi-sited' approaches in our research, and I argue here that we also need to take into account multiple long-term perspectives to understand any 'emergency' situation. I have been able to revisit the Sudan-Ethiopian borderlands intermittently over many years, and to have seen - though at a comfortable distance - the recurring ways that people are drawn into civil wars. My direct field experience has been complemented by archival work and conversations with people far from the sites of conflict, sometimes twenty years after the event. I will draw attention to the work of anthropologists in various parts of the world who are also showing how vital 'longitudinal' studies can be as a part of our approach to 'crisis'.
Anthropology of warfare, peace and reconciliation