The Ethnographer Unbared: Honoring Hatred in Uncomfortable Terrains
Keywords:emotions, ethnography, fieldwork, post-conflict, hate
Despite researcher emotions often being considered off-limits, here I position my own emotions as central to reaching deeper ethnographic understanding. I suggest the importance of researcher emotions for grappling with the messy reality of living in the field, and for reflecting on ethnographic experiences long after fieldwork is completed. I question what responsibilities researchers might have towards respecting our own emotions as ethnographic data. In particular, I consider the emotion of disgust in myself as a researcher. Why do ethnographers avoid engaging with feelings of disgust, and why are aversion and hatred so hard to even name? Is hate something that ethnographers can come to honor? I use the telling of three stories to shed light on researcher-researched relationships in uncomfortable terrains. I write about Vinith, a participant who I hated, but it is about me even more than it is about Vinith—it is about the intersection between us, and my own struggle to present him authentically, as someone who I consider both detestable and all too human. It is about the journey I took in coming to honor my relationship with Vinith, not in spite of, but because of, the strength of my emotions towards him.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Emily Graham
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