Mats Utas: "Towards a Research Broker Perspective"

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - Eng3-2028; Campus Gotland - B43 (video)
  • Organiser: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology
  • Contact person: Susann Baez Ullberg, Don Kulick
  • Seminarium

The Research Seminar in Cultural Anthropology

Mats Utas, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University: "Towards a research broker perspective: methodological questions and concerns in conflict studies"

While local brokers, such as research assistants, interlocutors and a variety of fixers play a crucial role in most research contexts; they tend to be particularly important in violent theatres. Not only do they have the in-depth knowledge that enables them to gather data on sensitive topics, they are also crucial in enabling the researcher to navigate safely through “dangerous fields”. From dealing with reluctant state agents to fostering sufficient trust to gain access to isolated groups, from the management of perceptions of the researcher to obtaining updated information on the security situation: local brokers are key resources and gatekeepers, and security as well as crisis managers. Yet, the role of many brokers – such as research assistants – goes much further than merely facilitating research or gathering certain data. They often become the eyes and ears of researchers, thus exercising a large influence on the latters’ grids of intelligibility, shaping not only the way in which researchers make sense of certain phenomena, but also what they see in the first place. Hence, they could be considered as full-blown partners and ‘co- authors’ of research even when not writing a single word. This new research project is about understanding roles, influences, and ethics in the power spectrum researcher, broker and interlocutors in the study of conflict Being developed out of an anthropological understanding of research brokering we aim at looking at broker figures used by researchers in all the social sciences.