Lectures

The ethnographic fact: a discussion of ethics in anthropological fieldwork

Note: A working-syllabus can be found below. Please add more recommendations in the comments.

The lone-fieldworker model of research may still be the norm for anthropology in the United States, but this is not the case for anthropology everywhere. The European Research Council (ERC), the main funding body for anthropological research in Europe, favors team-based research. Following the model of a scientific laboratory, a principal investigator (PI) is awarded funding meant to support the training and research of others (e.g. Postdocs, PhDs). By design, the work is both individualized and collectivized.

It was in this funding context that the ‘Future Health’ team met to discuss research ethics, which had been written into the original research proposal as a pre-field workshop activity. Emily Yates-Doerr is the PI for this team, where she studies maternal nutrition interventions with three PhD candidates: Shivani Kaul, Kim Sigmund, and Andie Thompson. Prior to the workshop, the PhDs had defended their research proposal and applied for ethical clearance from relevant institutional bodies. The gathering was designed to discuss the broad ethics of the research projects, sensitizing researchers to problems they might encounter in and beyond the field—not to achieve the approval of a human subjects review board.

The question of who is protected by ‘ethics’ is fraught in the field of anthropology. Two decades ago in the US, an undergraduate advisor who had become wary of the growing reach of university lawyers encouraged Emily to carry out her work as a photographer and not as a scientist. The advisor reasoned that anthropology’s interactive approach to knowledge-making would not be intelligible to the university’s research review board, which primarily oversaw randomized trials and blinded experiments. He warned her that ‘research ethics’ was often merely the university protecting itself from liability.

More recently, however, a European colleague offered a different perspective. Having studied research trials in the context of British colonialism, he pointed out how uncomfortable it was that elite (often white) scientists were the most likely to position themselves as above or exempt from ethical review while also being the most likely to violate ethical standards (see Turner 2001; Ceron 2011). Indeed, when considering how past research has trespassed through other communities’ values, there are many good reasons for ethics – even the fluid ethics that anthropologists tend to work among – to be infrastructured (a verb) collectively with the help of a range of internal and external experts, rather than decided upon by individuals.

Yet how to work ethically often cannot be known in advance, at least not when we want the people we meet[1] to shape our work, when our methods are intentionally emergent, when the human-as-subject is not a fact to be assumed but one to study (Mol 2008). As Sophie Pezzutto (2019) writes, ethics protocols cannot exhaustively answer the questions anthropologists are likely to encounter about whether, when, and how to participate while doing fieldwork.

So how, then, do we conduct good research? What techniques or practices should we follow? What ethical infrastructures do we want to build? To whom do we make our commitments? What tools are at hand for repair-work when we make mistakes?

The ethics of what?

To address these questions, we invited four experts from anthropology and anthropology-adjacent fields to discuss dilemmas they have faced in their own work and research. The event was envisioned as a chance to juxtapose numerous research orientations, putting ethnographic ethics into conversation with the ethics of the journalist, the experimental trial scientist, the photographer, the medic, the community artist, and so on. We were interested in sites where there are not just frictions but contradictions within ethical normativities.

For example, a best ethical practice in journalism is typically to name informants, putting people ‘on the record.’ A fact is what can be verified by a reliable source, not what can be repeated in a controlled trial. Meanwhile, anthropologists tend to work with invented names and in a context where best practice often includes changing details to protect an informant’s anonymity (note that this practice is in tension with an ethical imperative to credit informants for their contribution to our knowledge—and careers—by naming them). Photographs made by anthropologists routinely hide people’s faces, while journalists aim to put a face to the name as a method of further legitimizing their sources.[2]

Ethics also change on the basis of different knowledge repertoires. For example, in the US, pregnant women are deemed a ‘vulnerable population,’ whose participation in research must be carefully monitored. In the Netherlands, where most pregnancies are handled by midwives and not doctors, there is broad encouragement to not overmedicalize pregnancy and the inherent vulnerability of pregnant women is not presumed. Categorizing pregnant women as ‘vulnerable’ when not backing this with mandated federal maternity leave might, from the vantage of the Netherlands, be seen as unethical rather than protective.

At the workshop, we wanted to discuss what might be afforded by varied ethical techniques and sensitivities. We hoped that exposure to an array of ethical complexities might help attune the research team to unanticipated problems and how to handle them. Here we took inspiration from the domain of empirical philosophy, which holds itself at a distance from ethics. Concerned that ethics is too overdetermined by Eurocentric juridical (read: ruling Western male) orientations to ‘the good’ and might therefore not be the best route for cultivating care, this scholarship is interested in how goods are established as goods and how they are transformed (e.g. Pols 2015; Mol, Moser, and Pols 2010).

Rebeca Ibáñez Martín, one of our guests, characterized this approach as an ‘Ethics of What?’ Adopted from our colleague (and former ERC PI) Annemarie Mol’s ‘Politics of What’, this phrasing draws attention to the differing normative systems that turn values into facts (2002:174).[3] An Ethics of What? seeks to articulate how competing normativities emerge and become stabilized, and what is gained and lost in this process. Not taking the existence of ‘the ethical’ for granted, the Ethics of What? inspires inquiry into the varying normativities within our various field sites and the broader academic landscape in which we work (see also Ibáñez Martín and de Laet 2017; Ibáñez Martín 2018).

In our case, alongside questions about how the ‘goods’ of maternal nutrition come to be good, we found ourselves asking: What are the ethics of sending Euro-American PhDs to resource-exploited countries for fieldwork? Of sending students into conditions that are likely to be traumatic when they are without deep social networks to ground them? Of training PhDs at all given the shrinking academic field? Of meeting over catered food and wine to discuss intellectual concepts while our national institutions are locking children in cages at the US-Mexico border or facilitating their drownings in the Mediterranean Sea (M’Charek and Casartelli 2019; Yates-Doerr 2019)?

Ethical tensions

We opened the workshop by viewing a video made by two of the guests, Rebecca Sakoun and Florian Göttke. Collecting in the Collection, previously featured and discussed on Cultural Anthropology Online (Grant 2015), raises provocations about the materiality of ‘the story’. The film traces artifacts collected during Franz Boas’ 1883-84 Baffin Island expedition that now reside in the Berlin Ethnological Museum, to question how stories are collected, preserved, and remembered as knowledge production escapes the researcher’s control. Sakoun and Göttke mentioned that they still intended to slightly reshape the work by slowing the tempo, underscoring the partial and incomplete character of fieldwork. The conversation helped us to center questions about the politics of representation that are often downplayed in institutional review board (IRB) evaluation of fieldwork ethics.

Circulating legalities: Florian Göttke

Our first speaker, Florian Göttke, discussed his work with sensitive political images of effigy burning ‘found’ on the Internet. He raised two ethical issues that emerged while working with archives of Internet images: questions of copyright, and questions of how to use images that show people, especially when they engage in political activities and are identifiable. Regarding the first question, Göttke noted that researchers must increasingly be responsible for knowing the laws in the countries where their universities are based, where they carry out research, where they circulate their research, and possibly even in accordance with the laws of their home countries. Even though European copyright laws and US fair use regulations permit the use of published media images as quotations (treating images like sections of a text), researchers, universities, and publishers often refrain from doing so, fearing litigation by picture agencies and photographers who tend to aggressively protect their publishing rights (read: business models). However, applying current laws is hardly the basis for an anthropological ethics of consent (though it may pass muster for our book publishers).

The second question is how to accurately and respectfully present and represent the people depicted in photographs. These people take part in the scene that a photograph depicts and contribute to its creation, but their authorship and agency is not recognized in current copyright law. Additionally, a photograph circulated out of the context in which it was taken can easily be instrumentalized for purposes that run counter to the interests of the people depicted in them. As anthropologists move further into multi-modal forms of engagement and analysis, this becomes an ever more pressing issue. Not only do we need to be sensitive to the ownership of intellectual and artistic data, but we must also attend to the agency and interests of our informants– as well as to their safety if they are made recognizable in a medium that might put them at risk.

Modest Interventions: Deborah Heath

Deborah Heath explained that she had managed to secure a generous grant to study the Human Genome Project during its heyday through funding that had been set aside for bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. At the time, bioethics was deeply controlled by the field of philosophy, with ethics focused on individual rights and personal responsibility rather than on social goods. Heath noted that while this approach was not intrinsically bad, it was ripe for critique. Whereas Enlightenment-influenced scientists tended to claim neutrality, her inductive project contested this premise. She framed her work as a commitment to engagement and reciprocity, which she likened to participatory action research. Instead of administering questionnaires, fieldwork would be a chance to learn what the key questions were for people in the field. She envisioned successful fieldwork as work that leaves us not with answers but with better questions. Fieldwork, thus conceived, becomes an opportunity for ‘modest intervention’ (Heath 2007) where ethnographic inquiry aims for greater fidelity to the knowledge created in the field and not its own pronouncements of truth.

Committed to disrupting the Enlightenment’s epistemically distant modest witness through an ethics of modest interventions, Heath relayed a story about her experience working within IRB processes. She, along with Rayna Rapp and Karen-Sue Taussig, received a grant through the fund for mapping the ethical, legal, and social implications of the Human Genome Project. One of their early moves was to shift from critiquing the shortcomings of the US-based IRB process to instead advancing ways for anthropologists to proactively participate in the ethics review process. The hope was—and still is—to re-craft IRB discourse and practice from within to better respond to the work that anthropologists do. Relatedly, Heath compelled us to find ways not to wait (for finishing fieldwork, for completing the dissertation, for finding a job, etc.) to advocate for changes in our worlds. She encouraged us to monitor the political reverberations of our work– to not put this off until we’re tenured (an increasingly elusive goal for academics).

Collaboratory translations: Rebeca Ibáñez Martín

Rebeca Ibáñez Martín raised ethical complexities about the positionality of anthropologists in applied and collaborative research projects. While working with environmental engineer Laura Dias to study the normativities of waste water treatment in a Dutch ecovillage, Ibáñez Martín found that community members kept approaching her with questions about how to use the new technology. She explained to us that the process of research collaboration with an engineer and a community drew her into a positionality in which she was translating between the two. This situation, in turn, raised important dilemmas about who is an expert and why they are so. Ibáñez Martín encouraged us to include the work of mapping out the roles that anthropologists play in collaborative research as part of their collaborative practice— though she left the question of how to best do this as a necessarily open one.

Collaboration between anthropologists and people working in other expert fields offers critical and creative approaches for project development, but can also can lead to tensions between the expectations and needs of various non-anthropological organizations and funders. How do we move forward into this arena as translators, facilitators, or observers? How can the anthropologist manage alliance politics when contracted to work as part of a different field such as public health, epidemiology, or urban planning? For example, when we work with so-called ‘vulnerable populations’ who those in power might not understand, we may be asked to help explain the ways that our informants think, allowing those in power to essentialize their existence in an effort to achieve ‘cultural competency’ (see Hirsch 2003). But who does this cursory, essentialized knowledge benefit in the long run?

This raises the question: with whom are we allies and what forms does this allyship take? How does the anthropologist decide with whom to work and with whom to share their knowledge? How do they explain the complexity and situatedness of a vulnerable population without causing further vulnerability or marginalization? How do they push back effectively against those in power who feel that they have a right to our data? Ibáñez Martín also pointed out that the ethics review process does not typically consider the mental health of PhD students as part of its evaluation and raises important questions about how to care for PhDs in the field. “What about the ethics of how we protect our workers?” she asked.

Undisciplined Ethics: Rebecca Sakoun

Our final conversation was led by Rebecca Sakoun, who works as a visual artist. She pointed out that many artists undiscipline an ‘ethical code’ rather than follow it. Visual artists may experiment with expressive potentialities, using materials from any source which can generate productive debate about techniques of representation. Their reasons and methods for engaging with subjects may derive from very different starting points than those of anthropologists.

At the same time, ‘artists’ are hardly monolithic in their commitments or their concern for the responsibilities they might have for the people with whom and from whom they draw their work. Artists who do community-based activism or advocacy often develop their own ethical codes shaped through active dialogue with their partners. Yet professional conventions, theoretical discourse, and notably, even the applicable legal frameworks can vary widely in the related — but quite distinct— fields of conceptual art, fine art photography, participatory or community-based art/social practice, commercial photography, photojournalism, and documentary film/photography. For example, for photojournalists, the wishes of individual subjects are often superseded by the goal of achieving a powerful image. Anthropologists might be far more cautionary about the license granted (or taken) to do as they’d like.

Sakoun stressed that in contrast to anthropologists, who might focus on effects, artists consider intentionality to be key in understanding and contextualizing an artwork. She also emphasized that artists/authors can sometimes ‘lose control’ of their images. Even photographs made in the most respectful of circumstances can be appropriated or used in vastly different contexts, to express very different ideas (or critiques). Images can surpass authorial intent, change, or move between categories. Copyright can be difficult and extremely expensive to protect, claims of ownership are not always upheld, and more and more images circulate and are ‘recycled’ in new and unprecedented ways. Historical photographic archives in various public and private collections, university libraries, and museums are of great interest to many artists, while the ethical conditions of these images’ creation and ownership are still dubious, fraught, and under challenge.

Openings & Closures

‘Open When Possible, Closed when Necessary’

            — The credo of the ethics committee of the AISSR

The ethics statement that Emily submitted to the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR) ethics review committee offered writing as a method of addressing the emergent quality of ethnographic ethics:

‘To put it plainly, we will address our publication ethics by writing about our publication ethics.’

The strategy of treating ethical problems encountered in fieldwork as findings to analyze and not obstacles to solve also poses an audience-dilemma: anthropologists might be interested in the intricacies of anthropological methods, but people in other fields may be uninterested in the nuanced dilemmas that anthropologists find themselves negotiating. The public engagement that anthropologists are increasingly called to do typically demands ‘big conclusions,’ ‘knowable results,’ and ‘citable sound-bites’ rather than meditations on the subtle and nuanced negotiations that underpin ethnographic knowledge.

This is, however, a site where the anthropologist might embrace the multiplicities of anthropology’s science, working to make research intelligible to people outside of the discipline while also resisting the call to make knowledge comfortable or easy. How to do this well might even be taken up as a research problem: How do anthropologists make engaging facts while also keeping alive the contingent positionality of these facts? For example, the Future Health PhDs will take up this challenge through the use of multimodal methods and politically engaged writing. Shivani plans to use video-ethnography with students she works with in Bhutan to have their voices amplified beside her own; Andie will incorporate Filipinx podcasting platforms into her data processing and distribution to experiment with remaking intellectual boundaries; Kim is working with the wider public health community in LA to aid in the revision of public health frameworks for transnational maternal health.

The collective challenges surfaced at the workshop highlighted the need to make care-work central to field-work— to weave ethics into ethnographic practice. The hope is that explicitly addressing the concerns experienced in the field through collaborative and multi-modal forms of representation will foster a commitment to ‘staying with’ the troubling truths in our materials (Le Guin 2004; Haraway 2016).

Many of our projects are unfolding in difficult places: amidst border zones and conditions of precarity or war. We spoke about an ethics of guilt that we embody for our relative privileges, as well as how to handle fieldwork pleasures. When and how does guilt block our capacity to do good fieldwork? When should we work to find release from guilt? Or when might we go deeper into it—leveraging it to change conditions that need to be changed?

We also spoke about how commitments to reciprocity can guide ethnographic ethics– but that these cannot often be known in advance. Reciprocity, rather than operating through linear exchange, cannot be predicted as we move through our own career paths, as our life conditions change, and as we age– with implications for how our own research cannot be fixed into the status of ‘ethical’ or ‘unethical’ over time. 

In many ways, failure is an inevitable part of the fieldwork experience – and, in this sense, a learning experience that can be quite desirable. We felt more disciplinary work needed to be directed toward the question of when and how to meaningfully apologize for instances in which we mess up, and how to use our mistakes to strengthen our field data and our future work— but not at the expense of those whom we may have harmed.

Ableist and single-white-cis-male assumptions still drive disciplinary imaginaries of what fieldwork should entail (cf. Rahder 2018; Vieth 2018). We drew inspiration from adrienne maree brown’s ‘Pleasure Activism,’ to reflect on the importance of allowing ourselves joy, breaks (vacations, time off, exercise), connections with our own affinal networks, and necessary pauses during our time in the field. We spoke of the ethical imperative to build self- and community care into our research and broader academic praxis and swapped strategies for cultivating joy and pleasure as part of our work. (We also asked how we can best recognize how distinct positionalities shape when and how embracing the politics of pleasure becomes a radical or oppressive move; after all, even in our small group ‘we’ had many fractal-positionalities.)

Without overly romanticizing some of the dilemmas that emerge in team-based fieldwork, we saw ethical as well as intellectual benefits in working through these dilemmas collectively. Let us end with a story of the benefits of distributing ethnography’s ethical burdens across a broad research collective:

To highlight conflicting ethics, Rebecca Sakoun spoke of attending the 2019 World Press Photo exhibit in Amsterdam in preparation for our discussion. While there, she encountered a famous photograph of a woman brutalized by domestic violence in Afghanistan, the 2010 World Press Photo of the Year. The text label read, “Bibi Aisha, 18, was disfigured as retribution for fleeing her husband’s house.” Directly under the image, on the photographic print itself, was a handwritten dedication to the World Press Photo staff written by white South African photographer Jodi Bieber. The note celebrated the award her photograph received as the “‘prime’ highlight” of her career, adding that she wished her relationship with World Press Photo to be long-lasting (see image).

Sakoun said that viewing this written exchange between the photographer and the sponsoring organization left her with considerable discomfort. Though it is not surprising that a photojournalist would offer thanks to an organization that significantly helped advance her career, the choice to display this particular copy of the photograph seemed to detract from the photo’s subject, reducing the portrait to a sort of greeting card. The curator’s decision to present this copy of the image seemed to elevate the photographer’s communication with the organization to the same level of interest as “Bibi” Aisha Mohammadzai’s depiction and the critically important issues that her brutal injuries raise. 

Sakoun told us she regretted that she had not made a photo of the caption– not realizing the degree to which it would trouble her until after she had left the exhibition venue. This is a frequent occurrence in a method in which everything is data: you do not know at the time of ‘collection’ precisely what is worthy of focused attention, only realizing after leaving the fieldsite that there are details you wish you’d captured.

At this point in the conversation, Andie Thompson spoke up, saying that she had also just visited the exhibition. Struck by the awkward juxtaposition of violence and celebration, she had even made a photograph. As Rebecca spoke, Andie pulled up the image and shared it with us, offering a visual guide and multiplying the accessible modalities of the conversation.

Image by Andie Thompson

We were no longer primarily talking about the ethics of the presentation in theoretical terms: now we could see them. This multi-modality also shifted the conversation. Whereas we had previously felt hesitant to make a claim regarding the ethics of displaying the handwritten dedication, now we had enough confidence for an assertion: its presentation had been careless. The curators had responsibility to better contextualize the message of the photograph for its audiences, which they had ignored. We, in re-encountering the images, now had responsibility too. And it doesn’t end here. Addressing the problem in this post, circulating names and partial images, is a way to also share this responsibility with you.

Collectivizing our engagement over this question of representation points out an advantage of working together: the lone ethnographer is no longer responsible for getting everything or knowing it all. The longstanding ethnographic imperative to capture data becomes refigured as a commitment to engage with it. So-called limitations become reframed as opportunities for others to join the work and conversation. Sociality isn’t only something to theorize, but something to work on building into theory-making practice.

Notes

[1] “People we meet” are called participants, interlocutors, collaborators, subjects, interviewees, etc. What to call them – not to mention, whether and how to name them – is an unsettled problem in anthropology.

[2] At his #displace2019 keynote, Jason de Leon remarked that the tendency to hide faces may not always be good practice in anthropology, especially when working with people who are already routinely dehumanized.

[3] In the Body Multiple (2002), Mol describes hospital care practices as a “politics of what?” Mol notes that time and again, doctors and other staff are faced with the question of what to do. Though clinical trials and other research forms frame the answer to this question as a debate between ‘natural’ facts, they are also a debate between different systems of value. She writes, ‘the study of ontology in medical practice presented here deserves to be followed up by an inquiry into the diverging and coexisting enactments of the good’ (2002:175; 1999). She has continued this inquiry through more recent elaboration of onto-norms (2011).

Works Cited

This orientation to knowledge production refashions the ethnographic fact as something to be stabilized through care work, existing within — not outside — our collectives. These are facts to be learned but not discovered, facts that are strong and also agile, facts that must be cultivated, again and again. These facts, let us call them ethnographic facts, make ethics an unsettling process. They inspire the formation of new kinds of collectives, raising questions about how, and when, to act on what we learn.

brown, adrienne maree. 2019. Pleasure activism: The politics of feeling good. AK Press.

Ceron, Alejandro. 2011. “Guatemala STD inoculation study, never again?: IRBs alone cannot prevent human rights violations.” Anthropology News. 52(8):44-45.

Grant, Jenna. 2015. “Screening room: Collecting in the collection.” Cultural Anthropology Online. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/screening-room-collecting-in-the-collection

Haraway, Donna. 2016. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Heath, Deborah. 1997. ‘Bodies, antibodies, and modest interventions.’ In Cyborgs and Citadels (eds) Greg Downey & Joe Dumit. New Mexico: School for Advanced Research, pgs. 67-82.

Hirsch, Jennifer. 2003. A courtship after marriage: Sexuality and love in mexican transnational families. University of California Press.

Ibáñez-Martín, Rebeca and Marianne de Laet. 2017. Geographies of fat waste. Or, how kitchen fats make citizens. The Sociological Review. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0038026117726731

Ibáñez-Martín, Rebeca. 2018. “Thinking with La Cocina: fats in Spanish kitchens and dietary recommendations.” Food Culture and Society. 21(3):314-330. https://doi.org/10.1080/15528014.2018.1451039

Le Guin, Ursula K. 2004. “Fact and/or/plus fiction,” In The wave in the mind: Talks and essays on the writer, the reader, and the imagination. Shambhala Publications.

Pezzutto, Sophie. 2019. “I did it for the data.” The Familiar Strange.

Pols, Jeannette. 2015. “Towards an empirical ethics in care: relations with technologies in health care.” Med Health Care Philos. 18(1):81-90; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-014-9582-9.

M’charek, Amade and Casartelli, Sara. 2019. “Identifying dead migrants: forensic care work and relational citizenship.” Citizenship Studies. 23(7):738-757. https://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2019.1651102.

Mol, Annemarie. 2002. The body multiple. Ontology and medical practice. Duke University Press.

— 2008. “I eat an apple. On theorizing subjectivities.” Subjectivity. 22(1):28-37. https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2008.2.

— 2013. “Mind your plate! Ontonorms Dutch dieting.” Social Studies of Science. 43(3):379-396. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312712456948.            

Mol, Annemarie, Ingunn Moser, and Jeannette Pols. 2010. Care in practice: On tinkering in clinics, homes, and farms. Transcript Press.

Rahder, Micha. 2018. “Ethnographic Ableism: Structural Silencing of Physical Disability in Anthropological Research.” The New Ethnographer.

Vieth, Rine. 2018. “Dis/ability to do fieldwork.” The New Ethnographer.

Turner, Terrence. 2001. The Yanomami and the ethics of anthropological practice. http://anthroniche.com/darkness_documents/0497.htm

Yates-Doerr, Emily. 2019. “SICK: The deadly logic of the limited good.” Medicine Anthropology Theory 6(1):132–150; https://doi.org/10.17157/mat.6.1.700.


Florian Göttke is a visual artist, researcher, and writer based in Amsterdam. He investigates the functioning of public images and their relationship to social memory and politics, combining visual modes of research (collecting, reading, and writing with images) with academic research. He recently defended his dissertation “Burning Images: Performing Effigies as Political Protest” at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. 

Deborah Heath is an anthropologist at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she is also Director of Gender Studies. Following her research on genetic knowledge production, she has carried her feminist STS perspective into investigations of artisan wine production. You can follow Deborah on Twitter and Instagram @pdxanthro.

Rebeca Ibáñez Martín has degrees in the Philosophy of Science (PhD) and in Feminist Theory and Social Studies of Science (MA). She holds a faculty position in Anthropology and STS at the Meertens Institute (KNAW), Amsterdam. She studies an experimental nutrient recovery system from wastewater developed at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) and implemented in a small village in the south of the Netherlands. She is concerned with the shifting normativities and responsibilities involved in the system under development, and with mapping the shifting socio-ecological landscapes of waste water treatment. You can follow Rebeca on Twitter at @rebecaibanezm.

Shivani Kaul is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and a lecturer of anthropology at Royal Thimphu College in Bhutan. Her conflict transformation work and family history in Delhi/Kashmir ground her interdisciplinary research interests in how technologies, cosmologies, and historical traumas shape bodies and wellbeing across the lifecourse.  For the Global Future Health ERC research project, she will follow how different actors translate The First 1000 Days global health policy framework into practice across kitchens, communities, clinics, and policy spaces in the ‘post-growth’ context of Bhutan.

Rebecca Sakoun is a visual artist primarily concerned with examining constructive and deconstructive aspects of images and image-making. Led by her interest in extending the “photographic document,” her work often shifts into fictional or hypothetical areas through insertion, deletion, displacement, re-creation, and staging. She holds degrees in anthropology and sociology from Smith College, an MFA in Photography from Yale University and was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Amsterdam, NL).

Kim Sigmund is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam in Anthropology within the Health, Care and the Body programme group. As a member of the Global Future Health research team, studying the implementation of the First 1000 Days adaptive global health intervention, Kim’s research focuses on Guatemalan women’s experiences accessing and engaging with maternal and infant nutritional programming while also managing their migration to the USA.

Andie Thompson is a PhD candidate based jointly at the University of Amsterdam and Oregon State University. As a part of the FutureHealth team, Andie will be following the First 1000 Days in the Philippines to explore how the framework is shaped by different forms of knowledge and in turn how environments and bodies are figured in relation to potential futures. She has a particular interest in how different relations are made between the domains of science, citizens, and environmental materialities. You can follow Andie on Twitter at @andieohoh.

Emily Yates-Doerr is the principal investigator of a European Research Council research project titled ‘Global Future Health: A Multisited Ethnography of an Adaptive Intervention’ (ERC Grant #759414), and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and Oregon State University. She researches the field public health nutrition and carries out most of her fieldwork in Guatemala. She is an associate editor at Somatosphere. You can follow Emily on Twitter at @eyatesd.

Ethics-workshop syllabus of suggested readings

Anthropological ethics

Anthropologists in the Human Terrain Project

Empirical Philosophy, Situated Ethics, Modest Interventions

The status of ‘the fact’

Amplification and Its Complexities

On Anonymity

Caring for the research or caring for the researcher

Alliance politics

The ethics of apology

Photographic Ethics


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