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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/tn7g-z021


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Methodological and Ethical Challenges of Research on Death, Mourning and Memory during the COVID-19 Pandemic


funerary practices



Associate with the in-person session, “Time of Death,” participants in this roundtable will discuss the methodological challenges and possibilities, including ethics, of research on death, mourning, grief, and memory during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has brought into relief the tension inherent in studying rituals mediated through digital platforms. Rather than reproduce a narrow notion of ethnographic “being there,” how might we conceptualize the embodied ways in which we interact and perceive senses from afar using technologies such as Zoom or Twitter (Gray 2016)? How might the challenges of carrying out digital fieldwork during the COVID-19 pandemic shed light upon the complex “media ideologies” (Gershon 2010) through which people navigate between different channels to honor the dead, express grief, collectively mourning, or voice political claims? Alternatively, how might we reflect on our own media ideologies as researchers and negotiate the hierarchies that shape which channels or forms of communication anthropologists deem most productive for anthropological research? And, given that social relations and personhood are increasingly constituted in both online and offline worlds, how might methods employed during the pandemic extend or change beyond any end date of the COVID-19 pandemic? Finally, the roundtable participants will explore the ethics of witnessing loss and grief, whether in a Zoom interview, a Facebook memorial, YouTube video, or in-person, as well as the experiences of those who are forced to labor in the face of great tragedy.


Transcript English (automatic)

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