Positionality, Privilege, and Possibility: The Ethnographer “at Home” as an Uncomfortable Insider

Article


Anderson, Esther R.. 2021. "Positionality, Privilege, and Possibility: The Ethnographer “at Home” as an Uncomfortable Insider ." Anthropology and Humanism. 46 (2), pp. 212-225. https://doi.org/10.1111/anhu.12326
Article Title

Positionality, Privilege, and Possibility: The Ethnographer “at Home” as an Uncomfortable Insider

ERA Journal ID9431
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsAnderson, Esther R.
Journal TitleAnthropology and Humanism
Journal Citation46 (2), pp. 212-225
Number of Pages14
Year2021
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Place of PublicationUnited States
ISSN1548-1409
1559-9167
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/anhu.12326
Web Address (URL)https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/anhu.12326
Abstract

Conducting ethnographic fieldwork “at home” is often undermined by the colonial foundations of anthropology, which still permeate understandings of value and legitimacy in academic research. Scholars often present hometown ethnography as providing automatic insider status or as a threat to objectivity. In this paper, I offer a self-reflexive account of my fieldwork with working holidaymakers in the small rural Australian town where I spent my teenage years. Adjusting to conflicting roles of researcher and returning resident revealed feelings of discomfort and a heightened, uncertain sense of self at odds with the familiarity and belonging associated with localness. I argue that conducting ethnography in familiar research sites is an exercise in understanding the uncomfortable complexities of shifting researcher positionality. By sharing some internal conflicts and crises, I examine the process of conducting research in a familiar space and consider the broader methodological implications and transformative potential of doing ethnography at home.

Keywordsanthropology at home; ethnography; fieldwork; positionality; working holidaymakers
ANZSRC Field of Research 20204401. Anthropology
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FunderVictoria University of Wellington
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
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