Friday, January 28, 2011

Hippopotamus in green: Advantages of protecting people's privacy for ethnography include ongoing access to information & narratives, Building trust

Harbin ethnography:

... As a consequence of such practices, it will be nearly impossible to ever know for certain the identities of any avatar or individual entity in this book (Boellstorff 2008: 83).

The advantages of protecting people's privacy for ethnography might include ongoing access to information and narratives, of increasing sensitivity, fascination and edifying qualities. Such confidentiality practices may also further develop trust, rich, communicative networks, as well as relationships. And while disguised, actual avatar and individual identities might lead to some loss, in terms of social scientific rigor, as well as misunderstandings of sociocultural situations, temporalities and processes, at the same time, qualities of cultural logic may well emerge, in unexpected ways. With so many actual Harbin, spiritual names, and the potential for even more virtual Harbin avatar names, confidentiality and privacy is on a sound footing to begin with, vis-a-vis 'legal' names. As beneficial, ethical, ethnographic practice, I hope to extend this in multiply ways in the actual / virtual Harbin comparison.


Knowledge in this ethnography is situated in actual and virtual Harbin. Anthropological situated knowledge in virtual 'places,' like virtual Harbin complements a long trajectory of ethnography, drawing significantly on field work. …

( - January 28, 2011)

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