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Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Epistemological reflexivity and labyrinthine ethnography: insights from a gender-sensitive study of conjugal abuse in a religious society.' Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford Online, XI (1). pp. 25-52.

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This article draws on an ethnographic study of the realities of conjugal abuse and attitudes towards it in a religious society in Ethiopia. The study was prompted by tendencies in gender and development scholarship to transpose feminist aetiologies of conjugal abuse cross-culturally through sociological methodologies without paying sufficient attention to people's local belief and knowledge systems, especially religious beliefs and spirituality, or without being sufficiently reflexive concerning the influence of the researcher's epistemological locus in the research process. As an alternative approach, I suspend a priori conceptualizations of gender, religion and conjugal abuse, combining an anthropological study with participatory development methods to achieve more people-centred and cosmology-sensitive research. Recognizing the colonial underpinnings of western anthropology and the historically obscure character of the anthropological project, I followed a more reflexive approach that made transparent the process of data collection and analysis and drew attention to the centrality of the researcher's identity and personhood in the research process. Even such measures did not predict or resolve a host of other communicational and analytical challenges that emerged in the ethnographic experience and in the process of 'translating cosmologies.' In this essay, I have made an attempt to describe some of these challenges for didactic reasons in order to make anthropological research more tenable for younger researchers, including practitioners of development who engage with ethnographic methods, and to urge greater openness about the limitations and tentativeness of all research that involves multi-dimensional human individuals and realities.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
ISSN: 20401876
Copyright Statement: This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence (
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2019 08:32
Related URLs: https://www.ant ... o/current-issue (Publisher URL)
Funders: Other, Other, Other

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