“Where’s ‘the field’? Ethnography and conflict policy analysis”


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A seminar by Finn Stepputat (Danish Institute for International Studies)

Sometimes conflict researchers get involved in policy-related work, which gives insights in a different kind of ‘field’. Working in offices and meeting venues far removed from the areas of armed conflict, many people have an everyday with a relation to conflict and security dynamics around the world. Using his experience from doing analytical work for the Danish government (on civil-military cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan), Finn Stepputat will give an ethnographic reflection on the possibilities and (ethical) dilemmas of this kind of conflict-related ‘fieldwork’ (see the attached article). In the second part, he will talk about the idea of doing ‘global political ethnography’, discussing how and where to make use of ethnography in analyses of global policy-making, thus tapping into the current interest in ethnography across various disciplines.

This seminar is part of a series of research seminars on “Methods and Ethics in Fieldwork”. During these seminars national and international guests will be sharing their ‘story behind the findings’ with researchers from different departments, to have a profound reflection on methodological and ethical questions in performing empirical research.

For more information and registration, please contact Karen.buscher@ugent.be

Finn Stepputat is a Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. He holds a M.Sc. in Economic Geography and a Ph.D. in Cultural Sociology from Copenhagen University and has published extensively on issues of violent conflict, forced migration, state formation, and security, mainly in Latin America. Currently he works on trade, transport and states in Somali East Africa. He has also worked on more theoretical and methodological issues of state formation and sovereignty. He co-edited the volumes, States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Post-colonial State (2001), Sovereign Bodies: Citizens, Migrants and States in the Post-colonial World (2005), The Security-Development Nexus(2007), and Fragile States and Insecure people (2007), and edited the volume, Governing the Dead: Sovereignty and the Politics of Dead Bodies (2016).