Skip to main content

BONES OF CONTENTION: Negotiating Anthropological Ethics within Fields of Ainu Refusal

Buy Article:

$47.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Contemporary anthropologists often confront a complex history of informant-researcher interactions preceding their own work, which, if left unaddressed, can effectively block access to host communities. In this article, I discuss the obstacles I faced in conducting ethnographic fieldwork with indigenous Ainu women in Hokkaido, Japan, to initiate a dialogue about ethnographic responsibility, researcher morality, and anthropological ethics as paths toward developing an engaged anthropology. During my field research, I was compelled to confront the research methods of my disciplinary predecessors, including the pilfering of human remains and burial accessories from communal gravesites and unconsented blood sampling. These methodologies exemplify "Colonial Studies," a science informed by Japan's imperialist projects. The collective memory of these research practices retains currency among contemporary Ainu political activists. Today these narratives are transmitted intergenerationally, resulting in suspicion and often contempt toward researchers. With these ethically dubious practices in mind, I consider recent developments in ethical guidelines for ethnographic research both in Japan and the United States, and compare these approaches with indigenous research protocols now mandated by several indigenous communities. Social scientists cannot claim primary authority as interpreters of socially marginal communities. In recent years, Ainu and other marginalized persons have begun earning advanced degrees and introducing community-sensitive approaches to research. Here I argue that anthropologists and researchers using the ethnographic method must develop research practices rooted in prior consultation, cooperation, and collaboration with local communities, and must introduce reciprocal processes with tangible benefit for local communities, if ethnographic work is to continue.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more