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Belief-Inclusive Research: Does Strategically "Bracketing Out" a Researcher's (Religious) Beliefs and Doubts Limit Access to Ethnographic Data?

Pohran, Nadya; Beal, Bree S; Bielo, James M; Howell, Brian; Lackenby, Nicholas; Meneses, Eloise; Sommerschuh, Julian; (2022) Belief-Inclusive Research: Does Strategically "Bracketing Out" a Researcher's (Religious) Beliefs and Doubts Limit Access to Ethnographic Data? Current Anthropology , 63 (6) pp. 691-713. 10.1086/722329. Green open access

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Abstract

This article outlines a methodological posture that I consciously adopted during recent ethnographic fieldwork. I call this methodological posture “belief-inclusive research” (BIR), and I see it as a complementary contrast to existing methodological frameworks that suggest the bracketing out of a researcher’s own beliefs. I offer BIR as a distinctive methodological posture for ethnographers who work in and with religious contexts. I demonstrate that the long-standing tradition of bracketing out questions of metaphysical truth during the writing-up phases of anthropology seems to have also impacted the fieldwork phase. I explore the ways that some degree of shared belief—which, crucially, I do not limit to doctrinal beliefs—between researcher and informants has the potential to widen a researcher’s access to certain types of data. In highlighting that the long-standing practice of bracketing has limited a researcher’s access to some kinds of data and in offering BIR as a new methodological posture, this article lays the groundwork for anthropology to construct new conceptual spaces that actively encourage a researcher to include their own (religious) beliefs and doubts in the midst of fieldwork.

Type: Article
Title: Belief-Inclusive Research: Does Strategically "Bracketing Out" a Researcher's (Religious) Beliefs and Doubts Limit Access to Ethnographic Data?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1086/722329
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1086/722329
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
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 Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159263
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