Exploring Gendered Security Dynamics through Fieldwork and Ethnography

Authored by: Megan Daigle

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Security

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138696211
eBook ISBN: 9781315525099
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315525099-10

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Abstract

Fieldwork and ethnography are increasingly part of the lexicon of methods and methodologies for Security Studies, offering distinct advantages – as well as contradictions – for feminists looking to see gender at work in the world of security. By way of reflecting on the possibility of ‘feminist’ fieldwork, I want to begin by presenting two cases for consideration, two kinds of fieldwork: one ‘on the ground’ and the other seemingly high above it, both figuratively and literally. The first was ethnographic fieldwork in Havana, Cuba, where I interviewed young people who pursued sexual relationships with foreigners. There, the sounds of laughter, thumping bass line of reggaetón music, and the roaring of car engines filled my interview recordings. My voice recorder, for that matter, had a broken battery panel from months of heavy use and abuse. The notebook in which I scrawled my thoughts and interview notes was the only one I’d been able to find in Cuba’s sparsely stocked shops, and its cover was holding on by a mere thread, pages stained with coffee and dog-eared from living at the bottom of my bag. I worked through networks I built myself, snowballing one contact into more and more, hitting the streets to strike up conversations in cafés and bars, on street corners, on the beach, at all hours of the day and night. I learned how to duck the police. I felt (not without qualms, not without irony) like a fieldworker.

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