Print version ISSN 0104-9313
ZENOBI, Diego. The anthropologist as 'spy': from public accusations to the construction of native perspectives. Mana [online]. 2010, vol.16, n.2, pp.471-499. ISSN 0104-9313. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-93132010000200009.
In recent years, some American scholars have become embroiled in an extensive debate on 'anthropology and espionage.' The accusations levelled at some colleagues have been prompted by concerns over the potential use of knowledge generated during fieldwork. These accusations have shown that anthropologists can be regarded as 'dangerous' to the populations under study. Echoing the same kinds of concern, sometimes anthropologists are accused by 'their' natives themselves. In this article I discuss two episodes that occurred during my own fieldwork among a group of relatives of victims of a fire in Buenos Aires. On two different occasions during my fieldwork I was publicly accused of being an infiltrado, or inside agent, sent to spy on their actions and conversations. My aim here is to transform these apparently personal and anecdotal episodes into research questions capable of providing an insight into the perspectives of those accusing me. Inspired by other anthropological studies of witchcraft accusations, I look to analyze the dynamics of the social field in which the accusations were produced, simultaneously resituating my own role as a producer of knowledge.
Keywords : Anthropology and Espionage; Fieldwork; Inside Agent; Witchcraft Accusations; Native Categories.