Feminist fieldwork – power, learning and the politics of friendship in intercultural fieldwork
Otso Harju’s earlier and upcoming fieldwork among young feminist women in Delhi includes a number of positional problems around gender, racialization, postcoloniality, class, and caste. His PhD dissertation looks at how highly educated, middle-to-upper class, upper-caste feminist friends cope with and contest gendered political conflicts in their families. At the core of the study is also a self-reflexive investigation into the meanings of inequality, responsibility, maleness, and friendship in social research.
With this as a starting point, Harju’s guest lecture looks at privilege, access and voice in hierarchical academia and asks who should speak and get credit, where, and how. The lecture explores the many pitfalls as well as the possible liberatory potential of learning and humility in ethically complex ethnography. Moving beyond pure criticism, it muses around transnational feminist theory as well as bell hook’s thoughts on collaboration and education as a practice of freedom. These are used for asking if and how researchers can work against the sexism and racism of their own socializations.
Otso Harju is a PhD candidate in gender studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His doctoral work looks at the ways young middle-class feminist women in Delhi, India, negotiate gendered political conflicts with their parents and wider families. Having for many years lived between India and the Nordic region, Harju is also a graduate from the Master’s Programme in Asian studies at Lund University. His master thesis was selected to be published in the publication series titled Working Papers in Contemporary Asian Studies, published by the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University. The working paper is available in PDF here