Negotiating Asymmetries: The (De-)Thematization of Giving and Receiving in Ethnographic Relationships in Forced Migration Research
In this article, I address the genesis and shape of my ethnographic doctoral project on processes of social participation among young male refugees from Syria. I focus on the shaping of my own relationship with the refugees participating in my fieldwork. On the one hand, using a reflexive approach, I reconstruct the mechanisms through which the relational approach is constituted as a key aspect of fieldwork that follows its own logic. On the other hand, based on excerpts from the empirical material, I outline the characteristics of the relational dynamics of a particular case, which I treat, following Marcel MAUSS (1990 ), as a relationship of gift exchange: as an example of giving and receiving. Drawing on the obligation to reciprocate a gift, the mixing of person and thing in exchanging gifts, the creation of debt, and the temporal aspect of a gift, I disclose situations in which I experienced shame. The presented case may be indicative of what takes place in constellations involving volunteers and young refugees, as well as in the professional work relationships of educational staff.
Copyright (c) 2022 Ingmar Zalewski
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