Conducting short-term ethnography during the COVID-19 pandemic
Join the Department of Sociology for an insightful online seminar with Dr Yeela Lahav-Raz.
Dr Lahav-Raz is an Anthropologist and Sociologist who is researching sex work regulations and politics, mainly in Israel, and the intersections of gender and sexual politics, technological developments, and social deviance. In 2018, she received the ISF (Israeli science Foundation) two years postdoctoral fellowship. She served as an honorary lecturer at the School of Criminology at the University of Leicester, where she researched sex tourism in the Middle East. Since 2020, she is a postdoctoral fellow at The Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel-Aviv University and a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Abstract - On August 4th, I returned with my family to Israel after two years of postdoctoral research at the University of Leicester, UK. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were sent to a mandatory 14 days of confinement at a hotel in Tel-Aviv. The hotel was populated mainly of new Jewish immigrants coming to Israel from different countries around the world such as Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Georgia, Italy, Canada, Germany, and the US. During those 14 days, I conducted a short-term ethnography, combining interviews and visual materials ("balcony photos") in the aim of building a memory of this period and to understand why did immigrants decide to come to Israel precisely during a period of a global pandemic; how do they experienced the pandemic at their place of birth and finally, how do they experience the hotel confinement.
Through these 14 stories of confinement, which were posted on my Facebook account, I would raise questions regarding the unique migratory phenomenon of the Israeli society and its ways of dealing with the pandemic. Furthermore, I would discuss the ability to create digital archiving of the pandemic through Facebook as well as critical questions regarding how to adapt the anthropological fieldwork method to the extreme era of the COVID-19 pandemic, which produces movement restrictions and prevents physical stay at the research field. i.e., how can one conduct short-term ethnography in times of global crisis and restrictive conditions such as isolation.