Embodied Listening in court-based settings – Methodological reflections and ethical challenges

Authors: Sarah Klosterkamp*, University of Bonn
Topics: Field Methods, Political Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Embodied Listening; Feminist Geography; Feminist Methodologies
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Listening occurs in multifold ways within fieldwork situations, but is not always consensual or without complexities. Departing from four years of fieldwork on German anti-terrorism trials, I outline, how it wasn’t the many convictions, defamations or confessions of the accused, but the many conversations and unforeseen interactions with their wives, mothers, neighbors, appraisers, lawyers and guards, which gradually deepened my understanding of what the trial, and the wider legal process, made visible, erased, privileged, or was blind to. By highlighting three snapshots of such moments and by back bounding them to the sites and circumstances of their appearance, I argue, that such disrupting research relationships have much to offer to a feminist analysis of the ‘global intimacies’ of (state)power including its expressions through the law. Rethinking the field of court ethnographies in this way, as a site of messy, affective, and deeply embodied way of listening to and learning from other parties involved, demonstrates the insights offered by feminist practices, such as caring for and acknowledging others, who surround us, as co-producers of knowledge on their own terms and conditions within these highly institutionalized, highly challenging research settings.

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