Do the right thing: ethics in anthropological practice

Terence Wright

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    The paper focuses on visual ethnography in situations of conflict. For the purposes of the discussion ‘conflict’ may be defined loosely - as an intense rivalry between groups or as open warfare. It will investigate the responsibility of photographers, filmmakers, ethnographers to present a ‘balanced’ representation of the conflict. Is there an obligation to present points of view from both sides? Or does this depend on the nature of the conflict itself? For example, while one might consider it important to give accounts from both Republican and Loyalist perspectives in the Northern Ireland conflict, it may not be considered so important where repression appears quite obvious, as in the struggle for democracy in Burma/Myanmar. In such instances, is it necessary for the ethnographer to state his/her own position with regard to the conflict? Or remain aloof, aiming for a standpoint of ‘objective’ research and reporting? Or do we rely on the anthropologist to provide the ‘alternative voice’? How do we avoid, or come to terms with, imposing our own ethical or cultural values on such situations? We might also consider some of the conflicts that the anthropologist may encounter. What are the dangers of ‘embedded ethnography’: getting assistance from (or working with) the police, military, NGOs or other interest groups who might be operating to agendas that conflict with those of the ethnographer? Furthermore, do conflicts arise out of the photographic or the filmmaking process itself? The formal qualities of the medium can be used to slant the argument to favour one side over another. What are the dangers of this occurring subconsciously on the part of the ethnographer?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    EditorsTerence Wright, Iise Dobrin
    Number of pages0
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2013
    EventAmerican Anthropological Association - Chicago, USA
    Duration: 23 Nov 2013 → …


    ConferenceAmerican Anthropological Association
    Period23/11/13 → …


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