Emotional work: ethnographic fieldwork in prisons in Ecuador

Fleetwood, J. 2009. Emotional work: ethnographic fieldwork in prisons in Ecuador. Esharp, Special edition on researching hidden communities., pp. 28-50. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Researching hidden communities often takes us to places which are unpredictable, unimaginable and unknowable. Whether researching in a rural village in Africa for a year or across the other side of town for a couple of hours at a time, fieldwork requires that we step out of our usual milieu, put on the guise of an academic (for many of us for the first time) and ‘travel’ to unknown territory. This ‘travelling’ is explicitly intellectual, professional and academic but it may also be physical, personal and sometimes emotional.

In this paper I offer an ‘anatomy’ (Mintz 1989) of the personal and emotional aspects of my doctoral fieldwork in prisons in Ecuador. Examining the messy realities of emotions in my fieldwork speaks back to contemporary debates about the role of emotions in research. As well as gathering legitimate, intellectual knowledge in the form interview data, fieldnotes and budding theoretical ideas, I left the field with a collection of other knowledges which were personal, emotional, unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable. This paper is a product of the ambiguous knowledge that emerged from my fieldwork.

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1 July 2009Published

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27 Jul 2017 09:44

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29 Apr 2020 16:28

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