Centre for Ethnographic Research

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The question of intervention and non-intervention in ethnographic practice

A workshop organised by the Centre for Ethnographic Research at Kent, Wednesday 15 December 2021

Ethnographers are often confronted to ethical dilemmas when conducting fieldwork, engaging with research participants or immersed in community settings. One of these dilemmas is whether or not to ‘intervene’ when faced with situations, actions, or discourses that can potentially cause harm or lead to the unfair treatment of individuals or groups on the basis of ethnicity/race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age etc. Besides these ethical dilemmas, researchers may also consider participation as active and impactful involvement central to their ethnographic practice,  drawing on various repertoires of  transformative  intervention. What happens when an ethnographer intervenes? What are the political, cultural and moral implications of ethnographic intervention and non-intervention in defined contexts and situations?  What are the ethical landscapes within which intervention and non-intervention practices are embedded?

This workshop aims to address the issues raised by ethnographic intervention and non-intervention by bringing together researchers who, across academic disciplines, share a commitment to reflexive and critical ethnographic research.  The ambition is for the workshop to be participatory and collaborative to encourage discussions and exchange about the wide range and degrees of intervention in ethnographic research.


-Welcome: Dr Zerrin Özlem Biner (SAC, University of Kent) and Dr David Garbin (SSPSSR, University of Kent)

-Introduction to panel discussion: Dr Layla Zaglul Ruiz (Kent)


Dr Barbara Dennis (Indiana University)

Dr Steven Puttick (University of Oxford)

Dr Carin Tunaker ( University of Kent)

Laura Burke (Discussant, SAC, University of Kent)

10-minute break


15-minute break

-First activity: Exercises and Discussion Questions

10-minute break

-Second activity: Reflections and feedback