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The collaborator: The ethnographer as teammate and turncoat

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningfagfællebedømt

As anthropologist Margot Weiss (2006) has contemplated, ethnographers are sometimes seen as ‘collaborators’. Pointing to the dual and oxymoronic meaning of the word, we may be seen as someone our interlocutors may enter into collaboration with as well as someone who they fear will collaborate with the enemy – seeing the ethnographer as a potential teammate and turncoat.
Indeed, as Punch (1989) has similarly contemplated, ‘the collaborator’ captures many of the most essential methodological and ethical issues pertaining to police ethnography. As a figure of thought, it allows for explanations of how we as ethnographers continuously struggle to gain access, establish rapport, and position ourselves in our observational studies of policing. During our studies, we are, inevitably, faced with insinuations if not accusations that we may be in cahoots with a variety of perceived enemies of the police. At the same time, our field access and acceptance often rest on the fact that we give something back, leading our interlocutors to also frequently ask about how our research will in fact contribute to the police profession. Moreover, it is not only the police that keep the ethnographer between a rock and a hard place. As many police researchers have experienced, our own peers also look at/to us as collaborators. They urge us to keep a critical eye and not ‘go native’, making sure that we do the bidding of academia and not the police.Bearing all this mind, and building on the author’s own ethnographic work, the chapter offers up descriptions of how and why ethnographers come to be seen as collaborators – in both positive and negative ways. Ultimately, the aim of the chapter is thereby to provide an understanding of the particularities and difficulties of the very conduct of police ethnography as well as to provide suggestions on how we may maneuver such, indeed, “treacherous” waters.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelHandbook of Policing Ethnography
RedaktørerJenny Fleming, Sarah Charman
ForlagRoutledge
StatusUnder udarbejdelse - 2022

ID: 252556913