At what point does a moment of mutual intimacy become intrusive, or even violent? As ethnographers, we strive to learn the dance of our participants; we follow their lead as they generously guide us through their worlds. That dancing can be enthralling and as intense as it is intimate, and it can also invite unintentional violence.
Ana provided me with generous amounts of knowledge, time, and care. She knew I was doing a doctorate, and the understanding between us was clear: her knowledge, and her story, would be at its core. Now, that isn’t going to happen. I can use her information for articles, but it doesn’t feel the same.
How do we ensure that the #metoo movements reach beyond both Hollywood’s red carpets and academia’s Ivory Towers, to areas where a shake-up is arguably most needed? How do we approach community solidarities that provide both victim and perpetrators meaning and comfort, at the same time as perpetuating the problem sexual abuse?
As I now write up my data, I’m representing people that I can no longer consult. I can only draw on the words they gave me and the unspoken elements that I observed. I would like to think that they would approve of anything I write. I know this is not, however, realistic.