Researching fakes: practising anthropology out of the corner of one's eye


  • Magdalena Craciun Goldsmiths, University of London



This paper discusses the style of anthropological inquiry forged through attempts at grasping the elusive presence of fake branded goods. Although they are morally and legally combated, and culturally and socially derided, fake branded goods are ubiquitous. An anthropologist interested in researching ways in which people do find a place for the fakes in their lives is nevertheless challenged in various ways. In brief, the ubiquitous becomes elusive, and the anthropologist is suspected of secretly laughing at and condemning people, practices and objects. Reflecting upon the particularities and constraints of such a field experience, this paper argues for the advantages of practicing anthropology out of the corner of one's eye. This is a method of capturing something that is not discussed straightforwardly, something that quickly turns from visible into invisible. At the same time, it is an attitude in which discretion and respect mingle with diffidence.

Author Biography

Magdalena Craciun, Goldsmiths, University of London

Magdalena Craciun is currently writing her PhD thesis at University College London on fake brands in the margins of Europe. Her research interests include material culture, post-socialism, cultural history of fakes and anthropology of branding. She can be contacted at e.craciun(AT)