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Imaginary School Program

A Workshop by Dina Makram Ebeid

A Researcher in the Field

Workshop 1
2:00pm – 5:00pm Thursday, 8 January 2015

In this workshop we will look at the process of doing research with people. We will pay special attention to the types of emotions and affects this process requires which are obfuscated in the course of knowledge production. In moments of encounter with what is considered ‘research subjects’ the personal becomes political. Class, gender, sexuality, age, religion are constantly negotiated, often in a nuanced manner. In the field, we also learn through different faculties: noise, colours, sounds and jokes. Our positionality is important but so is the context we work within, doing research at times of flux could be very different than research at times when the political atmosphere appears somehow stable. This workshop is dedicated to the sum of experiences we have as researchers and the type of knowledge we are then asked to produce. We will explore fieldwork in a steel town in Helwan as an example based on the experiences collected by workshop moderator, Dina Makram-Ebeid.

Suggested reading: the old but classic AlTorki, S. and C. El-Solh (1988) Arab Women in the Field: Studying your own society. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Workshop 2
11:30am – 2:30pm Friday, 9 January 2015

In the second workshop with Dina we will talk about work itself as an object of study and the everyday of it; the hegemony of the work-discourse, and the tensions it creates. We will look at distinctions between labour power and labour, work and labour and the origins of exploitation under the waged-labour setting. We will use examples from the research in the steel factory in Helwan to understand how people develop connections with machinery, how women’s work is evaluated and how labour is commodified and used by different actors from the state, to capital and families and households.

Recommendations for readings about work and value/everyday resistance

Michael Burawoy's (1979) classic study Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the labor process under monopoly capitalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mollona, M. (2009).“Introduction”. In G. De Neve, M.Mollona, & J. Parry (Eds.),Industrial Work and Life: An Anthropological Reader (LSE Monographs on Social Anthropology)(p. xi–xxviii). Oxford: Berg.