Looking through the Prison Gate: access in the field of ethnography

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This article discusses the concept of ‘access’ within ethnography. Schatz’s conception of access as finding the nearest possible vantage point lays the foundation for a discussion of 15 months of fieldwork conducted in Myanmar for a study of experiences of imprisonment that had little access to the inside of these institutions. The article goes beyond an understanding of access framed by a focus on inside and outside and demonstrates how accessing a field from multiple vantage points allows for various views and qualifies nuanced understandings. The article shows how space, time and interpersonal relations affect the vantage points accessible to the researcher. Further, it concludes that working with former prisoners after their release offers potentially clear vantage points that are inaccessible inside prisons.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCadernos Pagu
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019

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