The Ethnography of Collaboration: Navigating Power Relationships in Joint Research

Omer Aijazi, Emily Amburgey, Bina Limbu, Manoj Suji, James Binks, Courtney Balaz-Munn, Katharine Rankine, Sara Shneiderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We came together to write a paper on the devaluation of field researcher labor as an entry point into the broader domain of research ethics to unpack what collaboration may mean in settings of incommensurable inequality. These motivations were grounded in the materialities of our involvement within an international research project focused on post-earthquake reconstruction processes in Nepal since 2015. However, since we started writing this piece, some of us felt that the paper did not adequately reflect their experiences, others felt it put them in the hot seat too quickly, and some thought that it mimicked the faulty modes of collaboration we wanted to unsettle in the first place. Realizing the power dynamics within our own writing collective, we stepped away from a centralized narrative to make room for our diverse, sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory experiences. The paper is a bricolage of reflections that focus on issues such as the division of labor, coauthorship, and community engagement. We use these reflections as a way to think critically about the current juncture of transnational, collaborative research and propose a series of open-ended reflections that prompt the problematization of the inequities, tensions, and emotional labor inherent in collaborative work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-99
JournalCollaborative Anthropologies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • research ethics
  • collaboration
  • ethnography
  • reflective writing
  • research partnerships
  • Nepal
  • disaster research

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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