Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
American Ethnological Society
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
My paper argues against Benjamin Teitelman’s (2017) defense of a presumed moral imperative of anthropologist-informant solidarity without limits. Tiedemann argues that scientific and epistemological ethnography depends on reciprocity, friendship and collaborations with the goals of our informants. In his case, Tiedemann defends his intimate collaborations and empathy with extreme neofascist 'White Nationalists' in Sweden. In his book, Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Nordic Radical Nationalism and in a forthcoming essay “Collaborating with the Radical Right” Tiedemann goes far beyond ethnographic neutrality to embrace the political ideologies and goals of his informants "as if” they were his own. He argues that our professional role is not to question, interrogate, debate or interpret our subject’s perception of the world in which they live. The pursuit of local knowledge and solidarity with our informants is uppermost. He dismisses the anthropologist’s obligation to explain, analyze, interpret and, at critical moments, to critique their informants, even when they may be violent, dangerous, and hate-filled. He argues that honest debate or critique with ones informants would only destroy the trust needed to extract scientific data, a view I will counter drawing on my intimate relations with informants who are racists, misogynists, death squad killers, and criminals.