On Becoming "White" Through Ethnographic Fieldwork in Ghana: Are ideas imperial by course?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (PhD)
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Nabbali, E. M. (2016). On Becoming "White" through Ethnographic Fieldwork in Ghana: Are ideas imperial by course? Language, Discourse, & Society, 4(1), 83-110. Retrieved from http://www.language-and-society.org/journal/4-1/5_Nabbali.pdf


Date created: 
Ethnography, colonialism, biopolitics, identity, Mad Pride

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Ghana, and the growing number of studies on “sanism” (or psychiatric oppression), this paper revisits outstanding methodological concerns around privilege and power, body and space, language and the liminality of social categories, as a platform to reconsider the insider/outsider debate. It ponders openly, and hopefully collectively, the implications of expanding research interests, so, too, the very circulation of ideas, against what the author is analytically describing as the experience of becoming “White.” The article focuses on questions that fieldwork exposed about researcher identity and “belonging,” not least the risk of essentialism. In effect, it seeks to demonstrate the ethical and epistemological dilemmas that arise from giving account, toward a more sensitive way in academia, relationship building, and solidarity work—where, when, how, or whether, critical ethnography can relinquish, reimagine, or altogether transform its dialectical tensions without undermining ends of resistance?

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