Concealing researcher identity in fieldwork & social media: Sexuality and speaking for participants

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Abstract

Researchers often conceal or reveal parts of their identity to ensure the success of fieldwork. Yet, in a socially mediated world, connection between researchers and research participants can be maintained via social networking sites. This raises new questions about the ethics and practicalities of negotiating identity during and after fieldwork. The article draws on a narrative ethnography of concealing sexuality during and after ethnographic research in Bolivia. First, I demonstrate that in a socially mediated world, the “curation” of researcher identity is no longer temporally and geographically bound to the periods and locales of fieldwork. Second, I argue that a researcher’s decision to conceal elements of their identity may be informed by essentialist assumptions about research participants. Third, researchers may effectively colonise and silence research participants because they speak for them and remove any opportunity for participants to respond to the element of the researcher’s identity being hidden, such as, sexuality, class, or religion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArea
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

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