Commoning Ethnography 2021-02-14T20:41:58+00:00 Eli Elinoff, Catherine Trundle and Lorena Gibson Open Journal Systems <p><em>Commoning Ethnography</em> is an off-centre, annual, international, peer-engaged, open access, online journal dedicated to examining, criticizing, and redrawing the boundaries of ethnographic research, teaching, knowledge, and praxis.</p> Trial by Fire 2021-02-14T20:41:48+00:00 Rachel Douglas-Jones Nayanika Mathur Catherine Trundle Tarapuhi Vaeau <p>In this Introduction, we take two persistent tropes of fieldwork, the ‘trial by fire’ and the ‘heroic fieldworker’ to task. Our analysis traces out what we call <em>everyday decentering</em> of these tropes, which we argue is necessary for fieldwork to be taught and engaged with beyond romanticised twentieth century masculinist heroics. We argue that anthro-pology and related field research based disciplines might be better served by adopting a more ethnographic approach towards the lived reality of fieldwork. Through our review, we situate the contribution that the six pieces in this volume make to pedagogies of the field. Readers are invited to continue this conversation about fieldwork futures in anthropology’s second century.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Rachel Douglas-Jones, Nayanika Mathur, Catherine Trundle, Tarapuhi Vaeau We Don’t Need Another Hero 2021-02-14T20:41:45+00:00 Yasmeen Arif <p>Ethnographic work occupies an uneasy spectrum of experiences, and in this timely discussion where ethnographic challenges are being given their rightful place – my arguments join the discussion by urging a slowing down, a stopping and taking stock about what counts as good work in our current professional environment. I attempt a reflection on immersed anthropologists, and in some ways, on those amongst whom we immerse. The base queries that animate these reflections are – who, what, where and how will ‘good’ anthropological work be decided. The curious fascination with heroic, ideologically driven, ‘difficult’ ethnography is a point of departure here. Once again, they lead to questions about the allocations of labor and power in ethnographic work and in disciplinary knowledge production practices.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Yasmeen Arif Woman, Non-Native, Other 2021-02-14T20:41:43+00:00 Vivian Choi <p>This article addresses my fieldwork experiences as a Korean-American woman in Sri Lanka. In particular, it highlights the challenges I encountered around my identity, ranging from almost universal initial disbelief of my being “American” to questioning why I was studying in Sri Lanka and not South Korea. I go on to discuss how these challenges illustrate the persistence of the native/insider and non-native/outsider binary, and how, through this binary, the default racial category of the anthropologist still remains unnuanced and white.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Vivian Choi a body writing 2021-02-14T20:41:41+00:00 Mythri Jegathesan <p>This article is a meditation on how the body fights to write about experiences of gendered risk and discomfort in anthropology. It details the sensorium of trauma and risk in fieldwork and how writing is central to processing traumas and but also curating future methodological directions. Responding to the demands placed on knowledge production in the discipline, anthropologists are often trained to seal up and bury these kinds of vulnerable writings. However, feminist writing praxes of disobedience and survival encourage anthropologists to do fieldwork and write not to survive a "trial by fire" or preserve an anthropology tested and known but to treat the body and writing as mutual sites of re-visioning more ethical engagements in their fields of work.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Mythri Jegathesan I Said No 2021-02-14T20:41:39+00:00 Madeline Donald <p>Research is an always already whole-self endeavour. As researchers we do not get to choose what parts of us to leave behind at home when we go to work; this is especially clear in the doing of fieldwork. Additionally, what happens in “the field” does not stay there. In fact that is the point. We move between fieldwork and reflection at varying intervals; it is through this corrugated process that research emerges. Research institutions need to recognize and provide appropriate preparation and support systems for researchers when their work takes them outside of the institutions’ walls. What follows is an account of the fieldwork experience that lead me to think about these dynamics of research and a window into those thoughts.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Madeline Donald Sounds of Trauma 2021-02-14T20:41:37+00:00 Malini Sur <p>This article explores the sounds of trauma in anthropology. I ask: when, where, and under what circumstances do unmoored sounds and voices gain salience in anthropology? In particular, can methodological insights prepare anthropologists for the intense military scrutiny that societies endure in violent borderlands? Recalling the long tradition of orality in anthropology, I suggest that the slippery registers of sound and voice in trauma is generative not only of location and culture, but also of a perennial sense of dislocation. Writing anthropology demands the iterative re-dwelling and reliving of sound and voice that continually haunt, emerge, flow, and resurface across different stages of ethnographic labour. Disembodied sounds and voices generate indescribable languages. Based on my long term ethnographic fieldwork in the Northeast India-Bangladesh borderlands, I show how sensory modalities not only nourish divergent possibilities of meaning and emplacement but also register impasses of interpretation and displacement.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Malini Sur Of Women and Belonging 2021-02-14T20:41:35+00:00 Malvika Sharma <p>I explore issues of identity and belonging in the field as a woman researcher, through encounters and narratives that highlight vulnerabilities in doing ethnography in a hostile borderland in Jammu and Kashmir. The contested notions of belonging – as a woman and as a researcher in the field – often proves challenging for female researchers who have to be mindful of both these identities at the same time. The field constantly reminds ‘the researcher’ of her identity as a woman, and here lies the difficult task of carrying out the fieldwork while remaining true to both. The challenges that a woman researcher faces can be overcome if she finds a way to negotiate her belonging in the field with herself, and with her participants.&nbsp;</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Malvika Sharma Cover page 2021-02-14T20:41:33+00:00 Catherine Trundle <p>Cover page volume 3</p> 2020-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Catherine Trundle Introducing Issue Three 2021-02-14T20:41:58+00:00 Eli Elinoff Lorena Gibson Catherine Trundle <p>This issue has taken shape within the context of a global pandemic, and despite these challenges it has provided a welcome space to continue our common intellectual work. Our authors hail from around the globe and have each experienced different aspects of this volatility in different ways at different times.&nbsp; The issue features a special collection entitled <em>Trial by Fire</em>. These essays probe and question the underlying assumptions embedded within the initiatory rites of immersive fieldwork, and the personal consequences and costs that fieldworkers sometimes bear.&nbsp; This issue also contains two&nbsp;articles on the complex&nbsp;ethics of collaboration, an interview with&nbsp;the authors of a graphic ethnography, as well as an extract of this work. Taken together, the contributions to this third issue of <em>Commoning Ethnography </em>continue to address the journal’s core provocations. They explore the way in which ethnography exceeds the boundaries of the Academy and connects scholarly knowledge to other intellectual and artistic modes of knowing and doing. And they probe the complex ethics and politics of ethnographic knowledge production in innovated ways.&nbsp;</p> 2020-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Eli Elinoff, Lorena Gibson, Catherine Trundle Engaging, Standing, and Stepping 2021-02-14T20:41:56+00:00 Michael Cepek <p>Anthropologists and activists portray the lives and lands of Ecuador’s Indigenous Cofán people as a case study of the damage caused by petroleum extraction. Yet during my fieldwork on the issue, I began to question the nature of the Cofán-oil encounter when the community in which I worked decided to allow oil companies onto their land. In this article, I examine my own involvements with Cofán oil politics in dialogue with Stuart Kirsch’s concept of ‘engaged anthropology’ and Kim TallBear’s call for researchers to ‘stand with’ their research subjects. I argue that anthropological activism is necessarily a complex and shifting affair, especially when our collaborators’ perspectives diverge from our own regarding the best possible paths to their wellbeing. I suggest that the most ethical option is for anthropologists to commit themselves to continuous, co-con-structed partnerships in which they are perpetually prepared to transform their most basic political and intellectual positions.</p> 2020-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Michael Cepek Reflections on Collaborative Ethnography and Decolonization in Latin America, Aotearoa, and Beyond 2021-02-14T20:41:54+00:00 Amy Kennemore Nancy Postero <p>As the ongoing legacies of colonialism are challenged, scholars and activists are increasingly carrying out collaborative research to respond to the asymmetrical privileges built into Western science by partnering with communities and explicitly orienting their research towards communities’ political aims. In this article, we trace the ways this shift intersects with other important trends in ethnographic research, especially attention to the politics of knowledge and decolonization. We discuss how collaborative research in Latin America is shaped by the context and political agendas of those involved to show what is produced. While in some circumstances collaboration can serve to level the colonial playing field by making Indigenous knowledge and practices visible, in other situations it can reinforce constructed dichotomies between Indigenous and Western knowledge and practices. As it increasingly the norm for government agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations to promote participatory methods to further their own agendas, we suggest that collaboration can be the site of governance as well as liberation. By bringing the dilemmas in our different research projects on Indigenous politics in Bolivia into dialogue with critical engagements from Indigenous scholars in Aotearoa and decolonial thinkers globally, we urge careful analysis of the multiple and changing standpoints of our collaborators in order not to re-construct essentialized notions of Indigeneity. Ultimately, we see the need to acknowledge the tight spaces of negotiation that we all find ourselves drawn into when we undertake collaborative endeavours. &nbsp;</p> 2020-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Amy Kennemore, Nancy Postero The Possibilities of Graphic Ethnography 2021-02-14T20:41:52+00:00 Claudio Sopranzetti Sara Fabbri Chiara Natalucci <p>Claudio Sopranzetti, Sara Fabbri, and Chiara Natalucci are the team behind the new graphic ethnography <em>The King of Bangkok </em>(University of Toronto Press 2021). <em>The King of Bangkok </em>tells the story of Nok, an urban migrant from Thailand’s northeastern region as he moves back and forth from his home village and attempts to build a life in the country’s capital across periods of massive economic growth and collapse and periods of democratic expansion, state violence, and political closure. Structured around a series of flashbacks, <em>The King of Bangkok </em>shows how these historical events shaped Nok’s life and how Nok’s life came to shape those events. The book was originally published in Italian (Add Editore, 2019) and was subsequently translated into Thai as <em>Taa Sawaang </em>(Awakening, อ่านอิตาลี 2020). In this interview we ask Claudio, Sara, and Chiara about their experience creating this text, its relationship with more traditional ethnographic genres of writing, and the effects their project has had in Thailand. We are delighted to feature a small section of the book following the interview.</p> 2020-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Claudio Sopranzetti Excerpts from The King of Bangkok 2021-02-14T20:41:50+00:00 Claudio Sopranzetti Sara Fabbri Chiara Natalucci <p>This is an excerpt from The King of Bangkok. Originally appearing in Chapter 3, the section we present is a flashback that follows the book’s protagonist, Nok, on his journey to the island of Koh Pha-Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand. Nok has secured work on a construction site there during the height of the country’s economic boom. The section demonstrates how opportunity and precarity, excitement and devastation are fundamental forces animating and shaping the experiences of migrant workers like Nok.</p> 2020-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Claudio Sopranzetti