Penser au-delà du « terrain sexuel » à Dakar Éléments d’une épistémologie située

Thomas Fouquet


Based on a long lasting fieldwork experience in the Dakar by night, this study questions the terms and issues of ethnographical implication, facing the double externality that characterizes the position of the researcher: being a white French man among Senegalese women, whilst many of them are looking for western male partners or “sponsors.” How to cope with the image of “prey” that broadly surrounds the ethnographer? How to articulate the critical analysis of the ethnographic situation, and that of social, political, economical and phantasmatic issues that emerge through “postcolonial encounter”? The problem is in particular not to reduce such an experience to the description of a “sexual fieldwork” thus designed as an ethnographic exceptional area. By showing that the real object of reflexivity always proves elusive, this rooted epistemology relies on a heuristic paradox: it is the progressive distancing of an “Ethnographer’s Self” that ultimately allows to come closer to the interlocutors. Incidentally, this paradoxical negotiation of the distance carries by itself some major anthropological informations.

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