Emotional apprenticeships: reflection on the role of academic practice in the construction of 'the field'


  • Celayne Heaton Shrestha University of Sussex




This contribution is concerned with the 'emotional regime(s)' (e.g. Reddy 2002) of academic anthropology, and the processes and practices through which 'the field' continues to be constructed as an entity separate from everyday life. 'The field' has been the subject of considerable attention in recent years, as have the textual, social, and conceptual strategies of distanciation involved in its construction. The role of emotions and emotion work in this process, on the other hand, has generally been overlooked. In this article, I draw on my own changing emotions towards the subjects of research during my postgraduate training to show how particular feelings towards the subject of research were legitimised and their expression and sensation encouraged-while others were delegitimised and discouraged-through educational practices such as seminars. The article shows that the transformation in emotional tone (and experience) involved-not the suppression of emotion, as has often been argued in anthropological writings-but a change in emotional style. The paper argues that this change in emotional style-and the 'emotional regime' that supported it-contributed to the 'Othering' of the subjects of research, as well as recasting researcher and researched in a hierarchical relation to each other. Thus, the article suggests that emotional apprenticeship in the academic setting plays a key role in the enduring construction of 'the field' as involving distance and separation from personal areas of activity.

Author Biography

Celayne Heaton Shrestha, University of Sussex

Celayne Heaton Shrestha is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Sussex. She is investigating the implications of Nepal's 10-year insurgency for development NGOs, as part of the ESRC Non-Governmental Public Action research programme. She can be contacted at celayne1(AT)yahoo.co.uk.