Ethnographic practice developed within anthropology as a fieldwork method and methodology that values uncertainty and the necessary reflexivity this triggers. In order to give this epistemological challenge a chance, ethnographers were allowed sufficient time to soak in 'Otherness'. Time was deemed indispensable to cope with the ambiguity of what exactly to look for while 'being there', in the field. Long periods of waiting were seen as a precondition for creativity and serendipity. But how to guarantee these unpredictable scientific values while various authorities and media demand from anthropologists, like from other scholars in the social sciences, to shed light on what is going on immediately. External contingencies that stress the quantitative aspects of research output often prevent anthropologists from indulging in 'slow science'. Instead, they have to write and publish quickly to keep their ethnographic account relevant before it becomes obsolete, hereby blurring the line between the anthropological quest and journalistic accounts. How do up-and-coming anthropologists think of the 'good old' long-term fieldwork? What do they consider to be the most ideal forms of ethnographic practice to address present-day research challenges and realities? Which characteristics of anthropological knowledge gathering do they find most essential? What is their ethnographic agenda for the future? This plenary offers promising young scholars a unique opportunity to address these major questions.
Danny Miller (UCL)