3:45 - 4:15
Dorothy Noyes -- "Paradigms of Engagement in US Government Policy: From the Office of Human Research Protections to Afghanistan"
Ethnographic fieldworkers working in universities or public institutions increasingly see their research reviewed by an Institutional Review Board, formed to ensure compliance with federal regulations regarding human subjects research. Many contest this governance, arguing that protections designed for biomedical research fail to capture and indeed exacerbate the ethical challenges peculiar to interpretive research. The interventionist paradigm of research implicit in the regulations and guidelines of the Office of Human Research Protections draws on what James C. Scott calls the "high modernist" mode of knowledge production characteristic of the modern state: among other things, it is unidirectional, impeding any active participation by those defined as subjects. Paradoxically, this interventionist paradigm has recently been explicitly renounced in a far more sensitive and influential realm of public policy. The 2006 U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual expounds a new doctrine for counterinsurgency operations that sounds remarkably like ethnographic practice and indeed like vernacular ways of knowing: locally specific, emergent rather than preplanned, irreducibly complex, and fundamentally dialogic, drawing on interactions with lower ranks, nonmilitary experts, local governments and communities, and insurgents themselves. Fraught with ironies as it is, this emergence of an interactionist paradigm in the very realm where state power is most nakedly exercised may mark a watershed in the history of knowledge institutions and their relationships to communities.
About Dorothy Noyes:
Dorothy Noyes is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for Folklore Studies. Her research focuses on traditional performance genres as vehicles of intergroup negotiation in plural societies. She has conducted project-specific fieldwork in the urban US (Uses of Tradition: Arts of Italian Americans in Philadelphia, Fleisher Art Memorial/Philadelphia Folklore Project 1989) and participant observation over the long term in Catalonia (Fire in the Plaça: Catalan Festival Politics After Franco, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, and various articles). Of late she has not had leisure to immerse herself in a new field experience but has been a close observer of institutional life and customs at the Ohio State University. As her colleague Margaret Mills says after any particularly contentious meeting, "It's all ethnography."
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