Elizabeth Watt, a post-doctoral researcher at Deakin University, talks with our own Julia Brown about the realities women often face doing ethnographic fieldwork. With humor and candor, Lizzy describes delicately maintaining ties with both dangerous men and the women they abuse, preserving her own mental and physical safety, and surviving a small-town gossip network, just so she could do her work.
Lizzy also wrote a blog about her experience for The Familiar Strange to accompany this conversation.
Trigger warning: this conversation deals with issues of sexual abuse. It was recorded before the release of the Harvey Weinstein story, the ascendance of the #MeToo movement, and the subsequent emergence of #MeTooPhD and #MeTooAnthro, which is why those topics don’t come up.
You can find Elizabeth Watt’s work on her Academia page.
“I really lied to myself about the nature of the relationship – I needed the relationship for my fieldwork.”
“Doing fieldwork is about building meaningful relationships and making friends. And when you’re a young woman walking around trying to make friends…”
“Private interviews you do are with people in power … it’s easy for people to get the wrong impression and that makes you even more vulnerable”
“If I got him off-side I’d get the whole family off-side.”
“Why wasn’t this reported to the police? But that’s the thing, it was in a community context where, like, it’s well known that SO much goes unreported… Kin politics trump everything.”
This anthropology podcast is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society, the schools of Culture, History, and Language and Archaeology and Anthropology at Australian National University, and the Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, and is produced in collaboration with the American Anthropological Association.
Music by Pete Dabro: dabro1.bandcamp.com
Show notes by Ian Pollock
[Image by Elizabeth Watt]
Ethnography, #MeToo, #MeTooAnthro, Far North Queensland, Australia, Indigenous Australia, sexual politics, sexual harrassment, sexual abuse