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On not being there
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, History and Theory of Art. Linköping University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2040-913X
2017 (English)In: Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research, ISSN 2000-1525, E-ISSN 2000-1525, Vol. 9, no 3, p. 335-341Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper is an expression of the social anthropologist's frustration with not being there, and an attempt to deal with my own chronic disciplinary identity crisis and my "it's complicated" relationship with participant observation.1 I have worked for a long time now in an interdisciplinary setting, and although I sometimes characterize myself as an interdisciplinary bastard, I have retained a rather strong identification as an anthropologist. This identification is perhaps paradoxical as one of my main reasons for applying to an interdisciplinary PhD program was to get away from social anthropology. As a master's student, I became increasingly frustrated with anthropology and its insistence on ethnographic fieldwork as the one (and only) way to do research. I remember my annoyance with my supervisor's question, 'but how is this anthropology' as she was reading my proposals, until I finally included a passage on participant observation, which appeased her. I remember reading master's thesis upon master's thesis where it seemed to me that participant observation was actually quite ill-suited for investigating the issues at hand. And then, finally, I remember my relief when one of our professors tried to instil in us, that there are 'other ways of knowing about the world' than participant observation. I came to my PhD studies with a thematic I wanted to study: the memory and commemoration of the Second World War in Russia. It was a topic I far from exhausted in my master's thesis, and a doctoral dissertation later I could easily devote a few more years to it. I also had a vague idea on how to go about studying it. Participant observation was to be a part of it, but I did not envisage it as the main part. Through serendipity, I happened upon the search for fallen soldiers, and ended up doing far more anthropological fieldwork than I would ever have imagined. It was quite literally field work, where I took part in work on the former battlefields to locate the remains of soldiers, fallen but often officially listed as missing in action. It was heavy, dirty, cold (or sometimes too hot) and very participatory, even hands-on. It was in many ways life-changing; allowing me close. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 9, no 3, p. 335-341
Keywords [en]
Fieldwork, Interdisciplinarity, Methodology, Russia, Social Anthropology
National Category
Cultural Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34699DOI: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.1793335Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85042187486OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-34699DiVA, id: diva2:1187020
Available from: 2018-03-02 Created: 2018-03-02 Last updated: 2018-03-02Bibliographically approved

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Dahlin, Johanna

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