The Ethnographer Unbared: Honoring Hatred in Uncomfortable Terrains

  • Emily Graham Swinburne University
Keywords: emotions, ethnography, fieldwork, post-conflict, hate

Abstract

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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Author Biography

Emily Graham, Swinburne University

Emily GRAHAM is an anthropologist interested in development, disaster recovery, life stories, and photovoice, completing her PhD at Swinburne University, Melbourne. Her doctoral research is based on ethnographic fieldwork in an indigenous fishing community in Sri Lanka. She investigates the impacts of disaster relief and development projects on life stories, and explores how people living with multiple and intersecting hardships understand NGOs.

Published
2022-01-29
How to Cite
Graham, E. (2022). The Ethnographer Unbared: Honoring Hatred in Uncomfortable Terrains. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-23.1.3857
Section
FQS Debate: We Are Talking About Ourselves!