Mobile physicians encountering other ”cultures” – on ethnographic sensibility and authority
2013 (English)In: EASA Anthropology and Mobility Network Workshop
: Fielding challenges, challenging the field: The methodologies of mobility, 27–28 September 2013 University of Oxford, UK, 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
In contemporary ethnographical research, there has been a significant broadening of methodological and theoretical horizons, for example questioning the moral and intellectual privilege of schooled ethnographers to describe social reality. In our study, based on extensive work-life interviews with mobile Polish-born physicians, they describe countries and localities in ways bearing many resemblances to ‘schooled’ ethnographical descriptions and interpretations. They outline ‘cultures’ and ‘mentalities’ and discuss ‘identity’.
Mobility (both spatial and social) seems to enhance the need – and the power – of observation, self-reflexivity and ‘cultural’ analysis. The doctors tell about their experiences with a kind of ‘ethnographic sensibility’, a keen attentiveness to organizational details and behavioural patterns in different setting, in their endeavor to make sense of implicit demands and social know-how. The accounts are grounded in prolonged participation, observation, conversations, written materials and a range of other data, just as ethnographical textbooks recommend – but their goals are more pragmatic than the ‘schooled’ ethnographers and they have a less complex, more popular notion of ‘culture’.
How can we, the ‘schooled’ ethnographers, study our subjects’ suggestive accounts and generalizations about ‘cultures’ and ‘mentalities’? The mobile highly skilled informants are eloquent and used to express their opinions with authority – but as they are on our ‘scientific territory’, so to say, the power balance gets rather complicated. How can we use their accounts for our analytical purposes, showing respect for their ‘lay ethnographic’ knowledge, but not compromising our own enterprise as cultural researchers? What are the differences between the ‘lay’ and the ‘schooled’ ethnographers’ interests, goals and – above all – responsibility for the descriptions and interpretations of cultural norms and values?
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
doctors, mobility, ethnographic sensitivity, mobile lay ethnography
Research subject Ethnology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-107918OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-107918DiVA: diva2:849662
EASA Anthropology and Mobility Network Workshop
: Fielding challenges, challenging the field: The methodologies of mobility, 27–28 September 2013 University of Oxford, UK
FunderThe Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies