28 September, 2015: Workshop Research assistants, interlocutors and friends: Producing knowledge through fieldwork relations
By Jan Jansen and Shekhar Kolipaka.
15:30-17:00h, Room 1.A37, Pieter de la Court building (drinks afterwards)
Working with a research assistant is on the one hand undermining the image of authenticity in fieldwork research, but on the other hand supporting the image of the professional, systematically working researcher. Handbooks may give pros and cons regarding inclusion of assistants in fieldwork research, but implicitly describe this as a static, formal(ised) affair. It is systematically avoided to see that a researcher is involved in a processes of developing his/her style through the way assistance is integrated into fieldwork. This may happen on an individual base or on an institutional base (in interdisciplinary research projects).
This seminar discusses both cases, and takes a fierce stance against the idea that working with assistants is either a "management issue" or a matter of method. Shekhar Kolipaka discusses the case of para-ecologists (para-researchers), whose role in field projects is seen as more than an assistant, since they are responsible for data collection (also after the researcher has left the field) and building long-term relationships with local communities. Jan Jansen will argue, on the basis of his decades long research practices in Southwestern Mali, that integrating a local person into a researcher's fieldwork practice should be studied rather as an epistemological concern instead of a methodological issue. Jan Jansen Shekhar Kolipaka