Seduction and Persuasion

Carolyn Nordstrom and Antonius C. G. M. Robben

in Fieldwork Under Fire

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 1996 | ISBN: 9780520089938
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520915718 | DOI:
Seduction and Persuasion

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How is fieldwork affected when people not only ask ethnographers for compassion but also for collaboration and even complicity? What happens to the dialectic of empathy and detachment when victims and perpetrators of violence engage in a politics of truth and try to make ethnographers accept their accounts as the only correct version? This chapter notes these problems in the contested historical reconstruction of Argentina's “dirty war” as told by its chief protagonists and survivors. Because of the high political and emotional stakes of this violent conflict, strategies of persuasion and concealment were played on the author by generals, bishops, politicians, former guerrilla commanders, and human rights leaders. The chapter uses the term “ethnographic seduction” to describe these strategies.

Keywords: ethnographers; empathy; detachment; historical reconstruction; Argentina; ethnographic seduction; persuasion

Chapter.  10428 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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