Denisa Butnaru - Being loyal to fieldwork: on building the "contract of silence"

jdmdh:11394 - Journal of Data Mining & Digital Humanities, October 27, 2023, Atelier Digit\_Hum - https://doi.org/10.46298/jdmdh.11394
Being loyal to fieldwork: on building the "contract of silence"Article

Authors: Denisa Butnaru 1

  • 1 Universit├Ąt Konstanz

The aim of the present contribution is to analyze how relations of loyalty emerge between researcher and researched during ethnographic fieldwork and to defend a perspective against the principle of open science. I discuss methodological issues with respect to my several years of multi-sited fieldwork experience in various labs, research centers and medical institutions, during which I inquired into the design and use of exoskeletal devices. Exoskeletal devices are technologies applied to three fields of application: rehabilitation, industry and the armed forces. Their invention is the subject of high levels of economic and scientific competition. Given these constraints, I was compelled to develop "loyalty strategies", one of which I call the "contract of silence". I associate this category with an ethnographic exercise in how to address one's interlocutors during fieldwork. I conceive of this process as a result of consciously retaining the information obtained from interviewees that might endanger the position of the researcher in the field. Although a tacit contract with one's interlocutors during ethnographic fieldwork implies anonymity, certain sensitive fields and research situations require forms of auto-censorship and the control of published results. I associate these strategies with the fabrication of fieldwork secrecy.


Volume: Atelier Digit\_Hum
Section: Data deluge: which skills for wich data?
Published on: October 27, 2023
Accepted on: October 20, 2023
Submitted on: May 30, 2023
Keywords: exoskeletons contract of silence loyalty multi-sited ethnography open science,exoskeletons,contract of silence,loyalty,multi-sited ethnography,open science,[SHS]Humanities and Social Sciences

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