Epistemic Collaborations in Contexts of Change: On Conceptual Fieldwork and the Timing of Anthropological Knowledge

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Felix Ringel

Keywords

Local Knowledge, Change, Shrinkage, Methodology, Conceptual Fieldwork, Epistemic Collaboration, Timing

Abstract

In order to examine the methodological potential of a more experimental form of fieldwork, I present three examples of conceptual interventions in my fieldsite, Hoyerswerda, Germany’s fastest shrinking city. My deployment of weekly anthropological columns in the local newspaper, an anthropological research camp for local youth, and a communal art project in a soon to be demolished socialist apartment house as ethnographic tools might be criticized for changing the field. However, my informants are themselves continuously adjusting their concepts and narratives in order to make sense of current rapid alterations. By actively intervening in local debates concerning the city, I have aimed to transform ethnographic interference from a necessary vice to a methodological virtue. Since my conceptual fieldwork was particularly helpful in studying epistemic change, I propose a reconsideration of the timing of anthropological knowledge, arguing for a more timely strategy of its representation “in the making” and an expanded facilitation of epistemic collaborations during fieldwork. In English, extended summary in Russian.

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