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Showing ‘heart’ through ethnography

Showing ‘heart’ through ethnography The practice of ethnography in the global south has been the subject of various critiques that encourage researchers to reflect on the complex issues of ethics, positionality and inequality. These issues are arguably particularly complex in urban settings such as the municipal marketplace, where a multitude of moral frameworks are in circulation, and where relationships and obligations are under constant observation. They raise a number of questions of the urban ethnographer: Whose framework counts when it comes to the estimation of obligations? To what extent is it useful to think of a single set of obligations to a disparate and diverse group of participants? And what role (if any) can ethnography play in responding to the live threats faced by marginalised urban populations, such as those of impoverishment and displacement? This paper responds to these questions by drawing on the author’s experience of ethnography in a marketplace in Kampala, Uganda. It argues that while there has been a tendency for scholars to take up a priori positions on the role of ethnography in the global south, the ethical relationship between ethnographer and interlocutor emerges only in the face-to-face encounter. In the case of Nakasero market, people place value on discreet acts of assistance and care; acts that demonstrate one’s ‘heart’ in an environment characterised by moral anxiety. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png "City: Analysis of Urban Trends,Culture,Theory, Policy, Action" Taylor & Francis

Showing ‘heart’ through ethnography

Showing ‘heart’ through ethnography


Abstract

The practice of ethnography in the global south has been the subject of various critiques that encourage researchers to reflect on the complex issues of ethics, positionality and inequality. These issues are arguably particularly complex in urban settings such as the municipal marketplace, where a multitude of moral frameworks are in circulation, and where relationships and obligations are under constant observation. They raise a number of questions of the urban ethnographer: Whose framework counts when it comes to the estimation of obligations? To what extent is it useful to think of a single set of obligations to a disparate and diverse group of participants? And what role (if any) can ethnography play in responding to the live threats faced by marginalised urban populations, such as those of impoverishment and displacement? This paper responds to these questions by drawing on the author’s experience of ethnography in a marketplace in Kampala, Uganda. It argues that while there has been a tendency for scholars to take up a priori positions on the role of ethnography in the global south, the ethical relationship between ethnographer and interlocutor emerges only in the face-to-face encounter. In the case of Nakasero market, people place value on discreet acts of assistance and care; acts that demonstrate one’s ‘heart’ in an environment characterised by moral anxiety.

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References (32)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN
1470-3629
eISSN
1360-4813
DOI
10.1080/13604813.2017.1353341
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The practice of ethnography in the global south has been the subject of various critiques that encourage researchers to reflect on the complex issues of ethics, positionality and inequality. These issues are arguably particularly complex in urban settings such as the municipal marketplace, where a multitude of moral frameworks are in circulation, and where relationships and obligations are under constant observation. They raise a number of questions of the urban ethnographer: Whose framework counts when it comes to the estimation of obligations? To what extent is it useful to think of a single set of obligations to a disparate and diverse group of participants? And what role (if any) can ethnography play in responding to the live threats faced by marginalised urban populations, such as those of impoverishment and displacement? This paper responds to these questions by drawing on the author’s experience of ethnography in a marketplace in Kampala, Uganda. It argues that while there has been a tendency for scholars to take up a priori positions on the role of ethnography in the global south, the ethical relationship between ethnographer and interlocutor emerges only in the face-to-face encounter. In the case of Nakasero market, people place value on discreet acts of assistance and care; acts that demonstrate one’s ‘heart’ in an environment characterised by moral anxiety.

Journal

"City: Analysis of Urban Trends,Culture,Theory, Policy, Action"Taylor & Francis

Published: Mar 4, 2017

Keywords: ethics; ethnography; Kampala; markets; methodology; Uganda; urban

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