Researchers frequently experience sexualized interactions, sexual objectification, and harassment as they conduct fieldwork. These experiences are often left out of ethnographers’ “tales from the field” and remain unaddressed within qualitative literature.
In Harassed: Gender, Bodies, and Ethnographic Research
(University of California Press, 2019), Rebecca Hanson
and Patricia Richards
argue that the androcentric, racist, and colonialist epistemological foundations of ethnographic methodology contribute to the silence surrounding sexual harassment and other forms of violence. Hanson and Richards challenge readers to recognize how these attitudes put researchers at risk, further the solitude experienced by researchers, lead others to question the validity of their work, and, in turn, negatively impact the construction of ethnographic knowledge. To improve methodological training, data collection, and knowledge produced by all researchers, Harassed
advocates for an embodied approach to ethnography that reflexively engages with the ways in which researchers’ bodies shape the knowledge they produce. By challenging these assumptions, the authors offer an opportunity for researchers, advisors, and educators to consider the multiple ways in which good ethnographic research can be conducted. Beyond challenging current methodological training and mentorship, Harassed
opens discussions about sexual harassment and violence in the social sciences in general.
The authors brought up a couple of articles in the interview that they wanted to provide links to, in case listeners want to look these articles up:
--Berry, Maya J., Claudia Cháves Argüelles, Shanya Cordis, Sarah Ihmoud, and Elizabeth Velásquez Estrada. 2017. “Toward a Fugitive Anthropology: Gender, Race, and Violence in the Field.” Cultural Anthropology
--Bonnes, Stephanie. 2017. “The Bureaucratic Harassment of U.S. Servicewomen.” Gender & Society
Sneha Annavarapu is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of Chicago.