Submissions from researchers in any discipline working on the Middle East are welcomed for a one day workshop which will examine the practical challenges and the theoretical considerations of conducting fieldwork in the region. Part A will explicitly discuss participant’s own experiences while Part B will reflect more abstractly on themes identified below. Suggested topics include, but are not restricted to, the following themes:
Part A: Practicalities of Fieldwork: Possibilities and Constraints
Expectations versus Reality
Ethical questions and challenges
Part B: Theoretical Considerations
Fieldwork and Discipline:
Fieldwork in the Middle East was formerly largely the preserve of anthropology, yet now there is a huge growth of disciplines conducting fieldwork - historians, political scientists, and a variety of applied ‘studies’ –bringing with them different conceptions of fieldwork, and different requirements in terms of the data it needs to produce.
To what extent do different disciplines have different conceptions of fieldwork?
What are the practical implications of these?
Do these changes have any impact on how the ‘field’ is relating to its fieldworkers?
Fieldwork and the Democratisation of Academia:
Increasingly, academia – or specifically that part of academia focused on exploring the ‘emic’ – is open to the vernacular or oral history, to indigenous voices, to women, to lower class contributors to challenge an imagined canon from various subaltern and non-elite perspectives. This often has the character of people researching at some level their own community –which at some level pertains to many of us conducting fieldwork, and the increased prevalence of hybrid (culturally if not ethnically) fieldworkers .
To what extent is there a democratisation of academic representations in our field contexts?
What impact is this having on our research or the way we conduct our fieldwork?
Fieldwork and the Economics of Academia:
o The Political Economy:
With its performance targets, emphasis on timeliness of output, and new internal controls such as ethics committees and regulations, the political economy of academia has shifted.
What is the impact that this is having on fieldwork and academic practices generally? e.g. the erosion of long term fieldwork and iterative research projects / questions, the requirement of ethical declaration forms and their disruption of field relationships.
To what extent is a new political economy of academia discernible in our various fields / Middle East Studies?
To what extent is this provoking changing practices of fieldwork?
o The Knowledge Economy
What is the place of academia in the knowledge economy, as it becomes less privileged as an authoritative site of knowledge production and is sidelined in favour of think-tanks and consultant experts? What is the impact of marketing trends which capture and persuade an audience through entertainment, e.g. the rise of an entertainment academia with its thematic interests in the political exotic of sex and violence.
Does this have any impact in our own contexts of conducting and then presenting field research?
Do the demands of the knowledge economy – insofar as they can be said to exist – change what we look at within our field-sites, and how we come represent it subsequently?
Interested contributors are asked to submit abstracts of no more than 300 words via email attachments (Microsoft Word). Abstracts should include the paper’s title, full name of author(s), professional affiliation, current email address and telephone number. Abstracts should be submitted no later than Wednesday 5th August 2009.
Successful papers for presentation will be notified by Monday 17th August 2009.
Attendance to the workshop is free, but regrettably we do not have funds available to support travel and accommodation costs for participants. Please register for attendance and submit abstracts via email to workshop organiser: Dr Vivian Ibrahim Vi2@soas.ac.uk
Dr Vivian Ibrahim
SOAS, University of London
firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com
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