How can we ethically research “the social” in times of social distancing? This paper considers the effects of a global pandemic on anthropological practice and scholarship. We suggest that, while much can be learned about the human experience during times of strife, we must first reflect on whether our research is beneficial, collaborative, or necessary. These considerations must constitute an ongoing conversation with research collaborators, and we should work with them in assessing the sociopolitical and biophysical risks our work entails, given that many anthropologists collaborate with members of disenfranchised and politically-marginalized groups. Acknowledging the highly social and oftentimes mobile nature of anthropological research, we call for a dialogue on research’s “new normal.” Due to anthropology’s understanding of the interconnectedness of sociopolitical, historical, and cultural factors in crisis contexts, we encourage our colleagues to commit to the design of ethically-relevant responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.