An expert in peripheries: Working at, with and through the margins of European anthropology
This research explores the relationship between knowledge production and place by studying different notions of disciplinary and personal peripherality. In an auto-ethnographic manner, the author discusses some of the power relations at work and the politics of representation of an anthropology being done at the margins of European scholarship. By analysing his own professional trajectory, the author surmises that the question of centre or periphery highly depends on the perspective applied (i.e., methods, labour conditions, institutional support, funding, the scale, access to jobs…). Also, he argues that there is a distinct form of reflexivity at the margins, as well as a distinct temporal regime – characterised by discontinuity. To contrast and complement his personal insights, the author invited fifteen scholars working in Estonia to share their experience of researching “at the margins”. Based on their responses, the author concludes by admitting that being at the periphery is relevant, yet circumstantial – something to be aware of, yet not definitive or a determinant. The article contributes to the discussion on the need to differentiate, contextualise and problematise the question of the academic marginality, making this issue more nuanced by putting the ethnographic focus on the conditions of possibility among practitioners and the state of being peripheral.
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