Diving in: affect, fieldwork and self-reflexivity
(Åbo Akademi University)
Paper short abstract:
The proposed paper discusses questions of affective investment and the positioning of fandom researchers, by bringing in the concept of ‘levels of immersion’ from video game narrative and development research.
Paper long abstract:
The notion of 'affect' have long been a key concept in the study of fandom, and the term has been used to explicate fandom "affective investments" (Grossberg 1992), "affective play" (Hills 2001) and "affective space" (Lamerichs 2014). The turn, in recent years, to ethnographic study within fandom-studies has led to increasing discussion on researcher/field issues; specifically on self-reflexivity (Ibid). Fandom scholars often tend to be affectively invested in their fields and this brings questions of self-reflexivity to the forefront. My fieldwork within fandom - working with fandom folklore in a British context - has made these questions of importance for me as well. In short, I have found that fans are so involved they do not care about researchers' objectivity, rather, how invested the researchers are. This in turn leads to positioning issues for any researcher doing fieldwork within fandom and to the question of immersion into the field. The proposed paper aims to discuss the positioning fandom researchers have to do by building on discussions on 'levels of immersion' from video game narrative and development research (Quin et al. 2009, Jennet & Cox 2008). I argue, in line with other researchers, that participatory observation is the "means of which 'feeling' and empathy for the research field or issue should be achieved" (Schmidt Lauber 2012) and describe how the modern day ethnographic researcher could deal with positioning issues, and debate their own immersion in participatory fieldwork and affect, by means of levels of immersion.
Experimenting with methods in critical affective research