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Fieldwork Under FireContemporary Studies of Violence and Culture$
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Carolyn Nordstrom and Antonius Robben

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780520089938

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520089938.001.0001

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Seduction and Persuasion

Seduction and Persuasion

(p.81) The Politics of Truth and Emotion Among Victims and Perpetrators of Violence

(p.80) Seduction and Persuasion
Fieldwork Under Fire

Carolyn Nordstrom

Antonius C. G. M. Robben

University of California Press

How is fieldwork affected when people not only ask ethnographers for compassion but also for collaboration and even complicity? What happens to the dialectic of empathy and detachment when victims and perpetrators of violence engage in a politics of truth and try to make ethnographers accept their accounts as the only correct version? This chapter notes these problems in the contested historical reconstruction of Argentina's “dirty war” as told by its chief protagonists and survivors. Because of the high political and emotional stakes of this violent conflict, strategies of persuasion and concealment were played on the author by generals, bishops, politicians, former guerrilla commanders, and human rights leaders. The chapter uses the term “ethnographic seduction” to describe these strategies.

Keywords:   ethnographers, empathy, detachment, historical reconstruction, Argentina, ethnographic seduction, persuasion

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