[URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics

Elzbieta Gozdziak emg27 at georgetown.edu
Thu Jul 30 14:48:50 EDT 2009

Most scientists do not know how they work might be used. Marie=20
Sklodowska-Curie never intended her discoveries to be used to develop=20
the atomic bomb!


Lawless, Robert wrote:
> I should added to my hastily written response (that included the statem=
ent "The informant may not realize what use could be made of the publishe=
d item") that anthropologists themselves do not realize what use could be=
 made of these studies, as is well documented in the cases of the U.S. mi=
litary's use of anthropological information.=20
> -----Original Message-----
> From: urbanth-l-bounces at lists.ysu.edu [mailto:urbanth-l-bounces at lists.y=
su.edu] On Behalf Of Brian L Adams-Thies
> Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 6:35 AM
> To: Bascom Guffin; URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
> Subject: Re: [URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics
> Just to play devil=B4s advocate......I am a bit concerned that the noti=
on that=20
> informants don=B4t understand how or in what manner their information w=
ill be=20
> used is in itself highly problematic.    Informants are just as capable=
> understanding the repercussions of their participation as we, the=20
> anthropologists, are.    Assuming that informants are somehow less imbu=
> with the logical capacity of understanding their decision smacks of=20
> colonialism/power/domination.   In this world we live in I think it ver=
> difficult to assume we, as anthropologists, are privvy to possible outc=
> to which our informants remain oblivious.
> With that said, I think what everyone who has responded so far is indic=
> is that this decision is contextual.    We should be explaining the ris=
ks of=20
> using real names and engage in an extended conversation with informants=
> about this decision.   If, after that conversation, an informant demand=
> that their name be used then I don=B4t see how we can ethically anonymi=
> them.
> These thoughts are also off the top of my head and I am sure there are=20
> people much more qualified to speak to the issue.
> All my best,
> Brian L. Adams-Thies, PhD
> Assistant Professor - Anthropology
> Department for the Study of Culture and Society
> Drake University
> Des Moines, IA
> Email: Brian.Adams-Thies at drake.edu
> Phone: 515.271.2936
> ----- Original Message -----=20
> From: "Bascom Guffin" <mbguffin at ucdavis.edu>
> To: <URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:09 PM
> Subject: Re: [URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics
>  =20
>> I would say that in the case of B (she/he doesn't care), I would still=
>> anonymize the informant. If they specifically ask that their names be=20
>> mentioned, it becomes a tougher call. I know of one person who had DJs=
>> informants, and many of them asked that their real names (at least  th=
>> real DJ names) be used, because they saw it as an opportunity  for=20
>> publicity. In this case, you might consider using their real names  to=
 be a=20
>> sort of reciprocation for the time and effort they've put in  to helpi=
>> you out. But this researcher still ended up anonymizing  their sources=
>> because informants made statements that the researcher  determined cou=
ld be=20
>> controversial. There may have been other aspects  to the researcher's=20
>> reasoning as well. If the informants are public  figures, other=20
>> considerations might also apply, in that there may be  good reason to =
>> their real names, especially if it is overly  difficult to hide their=20
>> identities. All this is off the top of my  head, and I am sure there a=
>> other members of the list who have given  this much deeper thought, an=
>> been directly faced with these practical  considerations. I too would =
>> interested to hear what folks have to  say.
>> Best,
>> Bascom
>> ----------------
>> Bascom Guffin | PhD Candidate
>> Department of Anthropology
>> University of California, Davis
>> mbguffin at ucdavis.edu
>> On Jul 24, 2009, at 9:41 AM, Fethi Keles wrote:
>>    =20
>>> Friends,
>>> I would like to receive opinions on the following issue, if possible.
>>> What most everyone does when we write things up is to change names  a=
>>> use pseudonyms etc. etc. But, what do you do if an informant a)=20
>>> specifically asks to be identified with his/her actual name in your=20
>>> study (book, article whatever) b) says s/he doesn't care/wouldn't  mi=
>>> if you were to use his/her actual name?
>>> I feel the answer to this must be more than 'well go ahead and do as=20
>>> s/he says', for there could be a whole lot of other implications if  =
>>> does so. Any readings you would suggest? What courses of action  woul=
d be=20
>>> on the table in the two cases above?
>>> Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thank you.
>>> Fethi Keles
>>> PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology
>>> Maxwell School
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> URBANTH-L mailing list
>>> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
>>> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l
>>>      =20
>> _______________________________________________
>> URBANTH-L mailing list
>> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
>> http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l
>>    =20
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>  =20

Elzbieta M Gozdziak, Ph.D.
Research Director
Editor, International Migration
Institute for the Study of International Migration
3300 Whitehaven St NW Suite 3100
Washington DC 20007
Tel.: 202-687-2193
Fax: 202-687-2541

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