No country for anthropologists?

From 1 to 3 November 2018, Anne-Linda Amira Augustin represented the Forum at the international conference entitled “No country for anthropologists? Contemporary ethnographic research in the Middle East” at the University of Zurich. She spoke about the difficulties of conducting field research in South Yemen that have existed for years.

Researchers of violent conflicts and wars have raised questions about maintaining neutrality under polarized and violent field-research conditions; some believe it is difficult – or perhaps even impossible – to sustain. Augustin analyzed how the uncertain situation, fears, rumors, but also solidarity in times of political unrest influenced her position as a field researcher in South Yemen and how this situation later influenced her analysis and the writing process of the empirical data she gathered. The examples she cited showed that the social scientist’s own background has a considerable influence on the data collected. Therefore, knowledge production and the validity of its content are closely related to the social position of the knowledge producer. She pleads for taking an open approach based upon reflection in dealing with the researcher’s position in crisis contexts.

Augustin’s talk was based on an article published in the Journal of Contemporary Social Sciences.