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On Ethnographic Confidence and the Politics of Knowledge in Lebanon

Carpi, E; (2020) On Ethnographic Confidence and the Politics of Knowledge in Lebanon. Contemporary Levant , 5 (2) pp. 144-160. 10.1080/20581831.2020.1814036. Green open access

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Abstract

Fieldworkers in politically sensitive spaces traditionally need to negotiate their presence in the field with local (in)formal authorities and epistemic power-holders. I illustrate how attempts at both holistic politicisation and neutralisation of the research space can question ethnographic knowledge production. Drawing upon the anthropology of silence and agnotology, I interrogate the whats and hows of ethnographic authority and local validation of ethnographic research when political and epistemic powers complexly and discontinuously overlap. By examining how knowledge is boasted about, concealed or questioned by political and humanitarian actors, I examine the ways in which a lack of political protection, as well as overt advocacy, shape different modalities of access – or lack of access – to the field. Against the backdrop of a growing body of literature on the ethics of research in settings affected by political transformations and emergency crises (such as today’s Arab Levant), I try to upend ethnographic confidence as a self-centred process of knowledge production. I instead rethink it not only as an ethical but also an inter-subjective effort towards a more effective integration of the counter-epistemologies of field interlocutors into our own research.

Type: Article
Title: On Ethnographic Confidence and the Politics of Knowledge in Lebanon
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/20581831.2020.1814036
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/20581831.2020.1814036
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Advocacy, neutrality, epistemic power, agnotology, epistemological invalidation, political protection
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108030
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