The Ethnographer Unbared: Academic Kinship, Elective Affinities and (Re)Negotiating Researcher Positionality


  • Hariz Halilovich RMIT University



kinship, positionality, ethnography, etic, emic, Bosnia, Tanna


Based on ethnographies conducted in post-genocide communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Bosnian refugee diaspora groups in Australia, Europe and the USA, and fieldwork on the island of Tanna (Vanuatu), in this article I discuss the challenges of the researcher and the researched in negotiating the space between perceived cultural insiderness and professional outsiderness. Firstly, I start by outlining the concept of academic kinship, the intellectual and social connections and networks that sustain and set the parameters for the researcher's construction of reality. Building upon the idea of kinship and elective affinity, I then move on to discuss examples from the fieldwork and literature relating to "doubly-engaged ethnography" (PACHECO-VEGA & PARIZEAU, 2018, p.1)—involving both emic and etic perspectives—and consider ethics and politics of this research approach. I conclude with an ethnographic vignette from my fieldwork on an island of strangers, highlighting how the mutual commitment to elective affinity and embracing both emic and etic perspectives create a dynamic research context in which different engagements in the field open up a conceptual space where the local and the global intersect, and where the roles of researched and researcher, insiders and outsiders, continue to be negotiated and (re)defined.


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Author Biography

Hariz Halilovich, RMIT University

Hariz HALILOVICH is professor of anthropology and principal research fellow at the Social and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University, Melbourne. Currently, he holds the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship and leads a major ARC-funded discovery project on the effects of politically motivated violence on local communities and families. In his research, he has focused on place-based identity politics, forced migration, genocide, memory studies and human rights.




How to Cite

Halilovich, H. (2022). The Ethnographer Unbared: Academic Kinship, Elective Affinities and (Re)Negotiating Researcher Positionality. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(1).



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