Methodologically blonde at the UN in a tactical quest for inclusion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

How can anthropologists negotiate access in high-profile, bureaucratic apparatuses, such as a UN human rights monitoring mechanism – and what can a detailed account of these negotiations tell us of such apparatuses, their operational dynamics and the processes through which they exert an impact, broadly construed? This article addresses these questions through the notion of tactical subjectivity by anchoring its discussion on the category of the intern and detailing how this category became informative of the ‘fuzzy logic’ of the UN apparatus. The article outlines three techniques mobilised in the process – name-dropping, ‘playing blonde’ and opportunism – all embedded in a tactical matrix of exaggerated transparency. The article further shares attempts to flesh out relations and thus form ‘liaisons’ between my interlocutors and myself at sessions of the UN Human Rights Committee, the most influential of all the UN treaty bodies overseeing how states comply with their covenant-bound obligations. The ultimate aim was to become a conspicuous ethnographer with constant access – a volatile goal in the unpredictable microstructures of this awesome global apparatus.

Details

Authors
External organisations
  • University of Helsinki
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Anthropology

Keywords

  • apparatus, conspicuous ethnographer, human rights treaty body, methodology, United Nations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-470
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Anthropology
Volume26
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
Externally publishedYes