A number of anthropologists and sociologists have seriously questioned the appropriateness for ethnography of Institutional Review Board procedures because they were designed specifically for biomedical and experimental research. This paper examines two dilemmas created by IRB guidelines when they are applied to ethnographic work conducted by students. The first problem regards the ambiguous boundaries that separate education and research; the second concerns the difficulty of establishing the multiple ethical obligations of the ethnographer while simultaneously recognizing that ethnographers, especially student ethnographers, themselves merit ethical treatment. It is suggested not only that the IRB system inadequately addresses the complexities of ethnographic research and education, but that it may inadvertently create rather than forestall ethical conundrums.

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