Shaming of the Anthropologist: Ethical Dilemmas during and in the Aftermath of the Fieldwork Process
AbstractThis paper focuses on ethical dilemmas encountered during the fieldwork process. Questions are raised about the extent to which anthropologists should become involved in, and possibly alter, the experiences of the people they conduct participant observation among. Here it is argued that although much is written about ethics in anthropology, anthropologists do not make explicit clear guidelines concerning the level at which they should become involved in the communities they study. It is suggested that there is currently a divide between those who believe they should retain distance in the field and those who support some forms of local activism or other types of involvement. I present my experience of doing research in Vietnam among children who were at possible risk of contracting the AIDS virus and who, in the aftermath of fieldwork being completed, tested HIV positive. The paper also explores ways in which we can continue to draw on such experiences once we have returned from doing fieldwork.
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