SUMMARY:This roundtable is officially sponsored by MESA’s Association for Middle East Anthropology (AMEA). The 2011 uprisings posed a profound change to what anthropologists call “the field”. The entrenchment of autocracy, as well as occupations and settler-colonialism, made conducting field studies unsafe for us and our interlocutors (acting politically and communicating via social media has also posed significant risks). At the same time, the revolts gave birth to new aspirations, imaginers, and political subjectivities. Our roundtable discusses methodology in Middle East Studies with a focus on ethnography in times of insecurity, authoritarian rule, imperialism, and increasing social and political transformations in the Arab World. Our participants are anthropologists who have worked in a number of national and virtual contexts (including Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen). While we have different research approaches and scholarly engagements, we share the valuing of ethnography as a key way to understand the context of Arab World uprisings and post-uprisings. Despite economic hardship, political setbacks, and media suppression experienced in most countries, other elements have also emerged in how our interlocutors persevere and insist on recognition of their agency and hopes for the future. As anthropologists, we further the case for ethnography as a primary method to study the changing epistemological field of the Middle East. Our discussion will also cover the ways anthropologists have had to change their research questions and approaches in responding to the changes in the field. In drawing attention to new epistemologies and methodologies in ethnography, we welcome colleagues from other disciplines in Middle East Studies to join us in considering: what can be learned from new ethnographies of the Arab Revolts?
SPONSOR:Association for Middle East Anthropology (AMEA)
DISCIPLINES:Anthro; Anthro; Anthro; Anthro