Ep #60 Adapting Methods, Human Difference, Virtual Dojos and Foggy Field notes:This Month on TFS

Welcome back to a new season! 

With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, we bring you another Zoom panel! For this reason, the audio quality will be a little different to our usual studio sound.

This week, we are joined by Sophie Chao, who we interviewed previously about her use of multispecies ethnography during her time with the Marind People and our very own Deanna Catto! 

Firstly, our guest this week Sophie Chao [01:49] starts us off by thinking about what we do as anthropologists in relation to the global pandemic. Sophie has had to alter her ethnographic practices because of how things have become “suspended” in the face of Covid-19. She asks us to consider how we as ethnographers and anthropologists need to adapt our methods and our ethics to suit this strange new world. How have you had to adapt your ethnographic methods?

Simon [06:49] then reflects on human difference through exploration of the Yazidi creation stories. The Yazidi people are an ethnic and religious minority in Northern Iraq who have two different creation stories which result in two different “peoples”. Simon poses questions of how we, as anthropologists, are able to work with people who have varying world views about themselves and their relationship to others. How do we navigate working with people that have different world views that might be contrary to our own? 

Dee [11:36] reflects on how Covid-19 has affected shared spaces, such as her dojo where she practises Karate and how her practise has been forced online. She mentions Durkheim’s Collective Effervescence and how she has been able to train online with Karate masters who ordinarily are invited to large yearly gatherings. The group reflects on how Dee’s virtual dojo has created an “e-effervescent” landscape. Have you had to do the awkward goodbye at the end of a zoom call? 

Finally, Alex [16:45] discusses the problems with field notes. He notes that as time progresses, the memories, the sights and the sounds attached to his field notes start to fade. Alex also discusses how easy it is to plant false memories. Dee mentions that even the memories of our interlocutors can be flawed and that we need to be aware of how we as anthropologists are seeing the world. 


You can find Sophie’s website More Than Human Worlds along with more information about her incredible research here: https://www.morethanhumanworlds.com/

If you wanted to listen to our interview with Sophie previously on the podcast, check it out here:

Also definitely check out her blog about how we use our bodies during Covid-19: https://thefamiliarstrange.com/2020/05/11/covid-body-use/

Sophie mentions ‘para-ethnography’. Eben Kirksey and Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn define it as involving ‘collaborations among anthropologists and “other sorts of experts with shared, discovered, and negotiated critical sensibilities”‘. You can read more about it here:

And also check out SAGE journals further explanation of para-ethnography here: https://methods.sagepub.com/reference/sage-encyc-qualitative-research-methods/n307.xml

SAGE also have written a very useful overview of positionality and what it means for researchers, which can be read here: https://methods.sagepub.com/reference/encyclopedia-of-action-research/n254.xml/

If ‘ontology’ and ‘epistemology’ are confusing or new terms, don’t worry! Try giving this quick explainer video a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkcqGU7l_zU

Sophie mentions Michael Scott who is an anthropologist of the Arosi people. Head here to find out more:

If you wanted to read more on Durkheim’s Collective Effervescence:

Here’s the video of Dr Karl explaining why memory can’t be trusted:

Don’t forget to head over to our Facebook group The Familiar Strange Chats. Let’s keep talking strange, together!

If you like what we do and are in a position to do so, you can help us to keep making content by supporting us through Patreon. Our Patreon can be found at https://www.patreon.com/thefamiliarstrange

This anthropology podcast is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society, the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific and College of Arts and Social Sciences, 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
Shownotes by Matthew Phung
Podcast edited by Alex D’Aloia and Matthew Phung

Feature image ‘karate training’ By Kai Schreiber (2006)

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