Reflexivity HIV/AIDs social suffering South Africa
Van Wyk, B. and Larkan, F., Writing Henry: The moralities of representation, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 14, 1, 2011, 43 - 49
Irish Journal of Anthropology 14 1
Extreme human suffering and death has the potential to bring about a paralysing discomfiture, not merely about situations witnessed, but about how they should be represented. Should it be enough to tell the story, free from the trappings of disciplinary theories, of one man's attempt to live his death according to his own moral framework, and hope that there are enough people who will take the time to contemplate it? The story below is Henry's story. It does not seek to arouse moral sentiment by the exposition of one man's suffering. Nor does it attempt to valorise the man, or romanticize the abject poverty in which he lived. Rather it seeks to represent a life lived - to the death - on its own terms and according to its own morality. While drawn to the life-force of this man, and the brutality of his circumstances, my personal, moral and emotional responses conflict with my academic and social position. This demands a level of conscious intersubjectivity and critical self-reflection which, I argue, is a necessary part of the process that is too often glossed as fieldwork experiences or 'data' but in fact represents part of our lifeworld.
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