147. Acknowledging and Embracing the Complexities of Conducting Ethnography: Navigating the Notions of Messiness in the Field

Sarah RĂ¼ller, University of Siegen; Konstantin Aal, University of Siegen; Volker Wulf, University of Siegen;

This open panel explores the challenges and complexities of conducting ethnographic research in messy, real-world environments within the disciplines of STS, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Media Anthropology. Ethnography often requires researchers to navigate complex social dynamics, unpredictable events, and unexpected outcomes. Research carried out in contexts under occupation or oppression, faced with war crimes or human rights violations bring out even more uncertainties, complexities, and potentially even trauma. Ethnography undoubtedly carries the notion of (neo-)colonialism, exploitation, and extractivism. Questions that should occur here are: How do we ensure that our research/work does not play into these practices? What are steps we can take to counteract these exploitive mechanisms? What authority do we have to do the research we are doing? Who is actually benefiting from our work and how can we align that with decolonial thinking? This open panel seeks to bring together researchers who are acknowledging and embracing these complexities and who are seeking and/or developing strategies to manage the messiness of ethnography. It is open to both conceptual and empirical presentations that address the challenges of ethnographic research and offer insights into how to navigate the nuances of messy ethnographic fieldwork. We encourage researchers to submit reflective pieces which are very personal and show the influence the research setting has on the researcher.

Contact: sarah.rueller@uni-siegen.de, konstantin.aal@uni-siegen.de, volker.wulf@uni-siegen.de

Keywords: University-Society Relations, Method and Practice, Decolonial and Postcolonial STS, Ethnography; Messiness; Authority

Published: 04/07/2023