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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 30, 2021

Negotiating the Duplexity of Ethnographic Relations: Taking a Symmetrical Approach to Interlocutors “in” and “beyond” Science

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In this paper, I raise the question of how we can, as anthropologists, take a balanced or symmetrical approach in our research in situations where our interlocutors have different relations with scientific knowledge. I describe how in my research on raw milk consumption in Croatia, some of my interlocutors were people working in the scientific production of knowledge, and others were consuming raw milk where they did not account for this knowledge. I explain how it was a challenge to consider both types of approach in an equal way because of my own relation to the scientific production of knowledge. I argue this is because of the duplex relation we have with our interlocutors who work in science: a collegial relation and an ethnographic one. As I show, this is a point that has been made in some of the literature on vaccination (e.g. Drążkiewicz Grodzicka, 2021), as well as one that has been discussed elsewhere (e.g. Nadasdy, 2007). I then consider these issues through Hufford’s (2020, 2008) idea of methodological symmetry, where I argue that it is in the “field” where relations are set up asymmetrically. Therefore, I argue that we need to think very carefully about how these relations unfold in practice during our fieldwork, and not just later on when we are analysing them.


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Received: 2020-12-07
Accepted: 2021-11-10
Published Online: 2021-12-30

© 2021 Sarah Czerny, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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