• ‘Ethnography on/from the Sidelines’ a blog project on institutional situatedness of knowledge production
Posted by Frank van der Most on July 6, 2012
Within the ‘Savage minds’ blog, Deepa S. Reddy and a number of other anthropologists inside and outside of academia launched a blog-project on the relation between the conceptualization of ethnographic projects and the institutional and real-research-life conditions in which they are shaped. In particular, how does that work for the ‘temps’, adjuncts and others in precarious positions in anthropology. The most interesting question the project tries to answer is
“is it possible that academic precarity or marginality of one sort or other generates new intellectual possibilities precisely because there is pressing need to make virtue out of necessity? What sorts of virtues are made of these necessities, and what happens to “ethnography” (as method and as analytical approach) as a result?”
Instead of complaining about the ‘precarity’, the blog project wants to find out how intellectual gain can be made from institutional conditions that usually are considered unfavorable to science.
Although the blog project is situated in the field of anthropology, the stories and insights are not that different in other fields. Having done my first interview runs to the UK and Germany for the ACUMEN project, I recognize a lot from the posts in the interviews. I asked academics from four disciplines (astronomy/astrophysics, public health, environmental engineering and philosophy) about the role of evaluations in their careers. For those who work in temporary positions, the role of evaluations seems bigger than for those who are in permanent positions. More importantly and depending on the actual situation, those in permanent positions are also finding out that their working conditions have become more precarious.