EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


From cracks to breakdown: disruption in cooperation

Location S-243
Date and Start Time 01 August, 2014 at 16:00


Michal Assa-Inbar (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) email
Orit Hirsch (Ben-Gurion of the Negev, Israel) email
Hagar Hazaz-Berger (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The panel will focus on moments of disruption, when cooperation fails to be achieved. Moments that can be described as: cracks, misunderstandings, breakdowns, and crises. In addition, the panel will focus on the Anthropologist, and the role of dis-cooperation between her and the actors in the field.

Long Abstract

This panel will deal with the difficulties of cooperation and the moments or spaces when cracks appear. These moments can be described as differences of opinion, failures to achieve consent, misunderstandings, breakdown of communication, crisis, to total disintegration of the collaboration. Within these moments a creative space can emerge between ideologies, aims, and ambitions, and the realization of them.

In our panel we will ask: What is the role of ideology in determining collaboration? Are problems in cooperation caused by the translation of ideology into action? Do disruptions, in the end, always lead to total breakdowns of the collaboration, or can they generate a new reality that allows fresh solutions? Can the disruption turn into serendipity?

The anthropologist is constantly looking for and relying on cooperation in her own field work: What is then the role of dis-cooperation or even confrontation between the researcher and the actors in the field? The prism of 'dis-cooperation' can produce a fruitful arena to explore different methodological issues. For example, how to deal with lack of co-operation by the informant or a breakdown in the researcher-informant relationship. To what extent does the intimacy of the Anthropologist's relationships affect possible disruption in the field? How, if at all, these moments are represented in the final text?

By exploring uneasy moments of disruption in the cooperation, we hope to gain a better understanding of social interactions, integrations and disintegrations within relationships as well as acts of improvisation and innovation.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Chest wall deformities and teenage dis-cooperation: patients struggle with their parents in Italy and Estonia

Author: Davide Ticchi (Tallinn University)  email

Short Abstract

Intimate conflicts in adolescence beget misunderstandings and disruptions which influence deformed teenagers who plan to undergo corrective surgery. Building up cooperative relationships with therapists, in this paper Estonian and Italian young patients unfold new strategies for overcoming breakdowns in communication with their parents.

Long Abstract

Looking closer at the lived experience of deformed youngsters, a variety of intimate conflicts shed light on stories otherwise left aside, due to a high degree of personal involvement and animosity. Thus, chest wall deformities (Pectus Excavatum, Pectus Carinatum, Poland syndrome) make us bump into disrupted collaborations of Italian and Estonian youngsters seeking the necessary willpower to overcome their parents’ resistance. In particular medical anthropology outlines further methods and skills which improve family cohesion, building up in-depth relationships with both parents and patients. Whether suffered or serene, indeed, breakdowns in deformed adolescences give us a chance to find fresh therapeutic solutions that reassert the primacy of cooperation between them. Attitudes which bracket and reshape previous understandings through counselling sessions, aimed to support youngsters who dream to get rid of their stigma. Although chest wall deformities require a considerable carefulness throughout the evaluation of physical wellbeing, indeed, the time for narrating teenagers’ lived experience is a priority of the clinical assessment. To this purpose, in the paper accounts of therapists and patients spotlight both successful and disastrous collaborations which revolve around issues of body image disturbance.

Collaboration and translation: localizing the global, particularizing the universal in the Barents Sea region

Author: Reetta Toivanen (University of Helsinki)  email

Short Abstract

The special interest of this paper is to consider the power of transnational networks influencing the local interpretations of universal human rights and how the global discourse is translated to the local desires. The presentation is based on my current research project which aims at understanding how power relationships are debated, negotiated and decided in municipalities where inhabitants belong to different majority and minority populations.

Long Abstract

The special interest of this paper is to consider the power of transnational networks influencing the local interpretations of universal human rights and how the global discourse is translated to the local desires. The presentation is based on my current research project which aims at understanding how power relationships are debated, negotiated and decided in municipalities where inhabitants belong to different majority and minority populations. In this context, ethnographic research in three Barents Sea area municipalities in the north Europe, Lovozero (Russia), Inari (Finland) and Porsanger (Norway), provide interesting material for comparison: the rights of the Sámi as indigenous peoples have caused unrest among the other inhabitants of the region. During the project, I am interested in understanding how global processes can be studied through the ethnography of local interpretations. What are the forms of ethnographic inquiry that make collaboration with activists in a conflict-oriented field possible? In a field where politics determine the personal relationships and the ethnic alliances, how can the researcher find ways of radical collaboration without becoming blind for the diversity of interpretations of every-day culture?

Moments of disruption and doing ethnography at policy-making meetings

Author: Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu)  email

Short Abstract

This paper contemplates moments of disruption in cooperation while doing

ethnographic studies of Unesco policy-making meetings. The emergent cracks

create methodological conundrums which require renewed theoretical approach

to discuss the trade of an anthropologist.

Long Abstract

This paper proposes to reflect upon methodological and epistemological

conundrums related to the ethnographic study of international meetings for

making cultural policy. It contemplates moments of disruption in cooperation

while carrying out research in the framework of Unesco intangible heritage

programs which engage in arbitrating sociopolitical representation and

cultural expression.

My self-reflexive study will attempt to unravel emerging procedural or

evaluative mechanisms and the entanglement of relationships at play,

particularly moments of disruption in cooperation. This paper aims to

contemplate methodological issues related to an ethnographic investigation

that entails ‘observant participation’ (David Mosse) rather than

‘participant observation’ in highly politicised settings. I shall discuss

the position and trade of an anthropologist in experimental, evaluative and

applied contexts that has to deal with breakdowns and dis-cooperation.

Unesco conventions concerning culture find particular visibility through

their listing systems which draw upon the complex notion of representation.

In order to critically analyse problems arising from prescriptive modalities

and the contingent evaluative judgments, I shall introduce ethnographies of

the assessment process and the emergent relations. An experimental

engagement in a politically loaded collaboration requires renewed

theoretical approach to elucidate a globalised regime of cultural

engineering (Ulf Hannerz).

Cooperation in ethnographic filmmaking: illusions and realities

Author: Beate Engelbrecht (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)  email

Short Abstract

Ethnographic filmmaking without cooperation is impossible. Questions of authorship and rights arise regarding the film and the filmed practices. I filmed a feast in cooperation with the organisers and viewed the material with my research partner. Then the connection broke down without explanation.

Long Abstract

Working with film in ethnographic research, the relationships with the people in front of the camera, besides and behind the camera are constantly negotiated. Filming without cooperation is impossible. The questions which forms of cooperation, with which rights and duties, and with which results, arise immediately.

In a research project on cultural property questions of authorship and copyright in ethnographic filmmaking were investigated taking the filmic documentation of a Torajan feast in Sulawesi as point of departure. Feasts are of highly political interest; the negotiations around the feast, the organisation and the presentation explored. Authorship and copyright concern the film itself but also the cultural practices exhibited during the feast. A conference was also organized by leading Toraja placing Torajan Culture in the context of Indonesian Multiculturalism.

One Toraja co-organising the feast and the conference gave me the permission to film both. I cooperated with the different actors during my field stay without problems. Then I invited my contact person to participate in a symposium in Germany. As film offers the possibility to view the material with the research partner we watched all the material together in Germany. Thus I got a lot more information about the feast but also about how Toraja conceptualise cultural property.

After the return of the research partner the whole cooperation broke down suddenly.

In the paper I will reflect on the different forms of cooperation in ethnographic filmmaking, the negotiations and the break down leading to the end of the film project.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.