Friday, December 29, 2006

Fieldwork notes excuses: self-censorship

I just thought I should offer some more excuses for not keeping my fieldwork notes up-to-date, though, as will become clear, it may be a bit backwards to do so; still, I now have four Cypriot cultural heritage sites' (somewhat) annotated photographic archives online - those of Evretou and Loukrounou and of Alevga and Mansoura.

Having escaped hostel hell, I now live in a studio flat in central Istanbul, a minute from both my language school and the main boulevard.

I'm going to hold to the principle of putting my (all of my) fieldwork notes extracts up (and) in chronological order, but I think it might be worth bending this rule for a fieldwork note I wrote a few days ago. It was written in reference to the issues presented in a few posts I put up on samarkeolog at the same time about Kristiina Koivunen being deported from Turkey because of her work on what she terms the ethnocide of the Kurdish community).

At 3.55am on the 28th of December 2006, I wondered,
What am I going to do about my commitment to put my fieldwork notes, etc. in the public domain when it simultaneously documents my beliefs and demonstrates my involvement in unpopular causes, all before I've gathered or finished gathering information?

Before, I (2005: 37) had judged that 'work in Ilisu (without the institutional support network available in other comparable locations) may be inadvisable'; now, I feel a responsibility to witness it. If I do witness and testify to the situation in south-eastern Turkey, it may interfere with my wish and obligation to do the same in northern Cyprus; if I don't say what I saw (at least, until the end of my fieldwork), it could come across as quite mercenary.
Of course, saying that I'm not going to say anything until afterwards (but that I will say something), does make not saying anything quite redundant, but I don't think I could or would have drawn attention to myself yet. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I only know that US military intelligence visits my site; I don't know who within that community reads my work or why.
I mentioned this consideration to my friends, whereupon a couple of them told me of incidents that had demonstrated the state's disturbing depth of knowledge (the police making asides to a victim of a crime that demonstrated their surveillance of him) and its capacity to put that knowledge to use (getting informal advice from colleagues to practice self-censorship as previous, unpublicised work had brought her to the attention of the authorities).

If I practice self-censorship, however, it would put me in a comparable position to those who - albeit under duress - acquiesce to nationalist community archaeology in Cyprus. I need to read Havel(?) and Kundera.
Hardy, S A. 2005: Research proposal: "Placing cultural rights: Resolving conflicts over cultural heritage - querying cultures' rights and archaeologists' responsibilities". Brighton: University of Sussex - unpublished MSc dissertation. Available at:

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