The ethics of knowledge creation: Anthropological perspectives.

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A core historical narrative about anthropological knowledge is that it is created in relations with others, with fieldwork seen as ‘a series of apprenticeships’ whose success is determined by the quality of those relations. An ethnographer connects with the conditions of those studied in ‘circulating exchange’; but on leaving the field a degree of closure is needed to formulate and communicate anthropological knowledge. These obligations and requirements in the creation of knowledge entail attachment and detachment, carrying the seeds of betrayal that can compromise that knowledge. Each epistemological enquiry has its own core ethical imperatives, but as long as knowledge posits a knower, ‘the self of the knower will be at epistemological issue’. In discussing the ethics of knowledge creation I consider the following questions, among others: To what extent is the creation of a particular kind of ethical and epistemic person required for knowledge? How can ethnography produce knowledge about others without betraying them? Can relations of knowledge exchange confer or withhold ‘rights to speak’? Is it possible that unethical relations may destroy or hold up the unfolding of knowledge? And are there circumstances in which it is unethical to disclose knowledge?
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Archival date: 2020-11-28
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