Reflections on Managing Danger in Fieldwork

Reflections on Managing Danger in Fieldwork - Jeffrey A...

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Jeffrey A. Sluka, 1995, "Reflections on Managing Danger in Fieldwork: Dangerous Anthropology in Belfast, " in Fieldwork Under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival , Carolyn Nordstrom and Antonius C.G.M. Robben eds., Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 276-294. Jeffrey A. Sluka is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He is author of the book Hearts and Minds, Water and Fish: Popular Support for the IRA and INLA in a Northern Irish Ghetto. Sluka's discusses his fieldwork in Catholic-nationalist ghettos of Belfast, Northern Ireland (1981-1982, 1991), on the social dynamics of popular support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). He interviewed individuals in these paramilitary groups and in the general community about more than two decades of urban guerrilla warfare in what he refers to as the "killing fields." His field methods emphasized "hanging out," traveling with, and talking informally with paramilitary members, as well as observing social and political functions such as funerals (280). In particular, he describes how he planned and implemented the fieldwork in collaboration with local people, including members of the IRA and INLA. He labels this liberation anthropology and stresses that it includes "the politics of truth," presents an inside or participant's view [emic], and humanizes the people. He asserts that this research contrasts with the attempts of the British authorities to vilify and dehumanize these people as part of their counterinsurgency or "psychological warfare" operations. The people he worked with recognized that an objective academic study could not be readily dismissed as
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Reflections on Managing Danger in Fieldwork - Jeffrey A...

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