Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Following and being followed by the field – an ethnographic study of drug-resistant tuberculosis

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

See relations at Aarhus University

Jens Seeberg - Lecturer

To focus on the ‘following’ implies a paradoxical subjectivity, as it redirects our attention from the main actor – the lead – to the secondary, the ethnographer whose actions can only exist in the shadow of the former. This paper discusses implications of ’following’ 20 individuals suffering from drug-resistant tuberculosis in India over a period of two years and beyond. In the process, it has become increasingly complex to delineate ‘following’; in addition to regularly repeated home-visits within a 30 miles radius, it has involved trace ethnography of treatment-related documents and x-rays, diary writing, photos, videos, audios, clinical visits etc. Yet, to follow entails possibilities of being ‘followed back’. Updates from the field on treatment developments and needs for interventions reached me on my cell phone, asking for advice. The field was following the ethnographer, as the intersubjectivity of the field encounters stretched across the globe in an extended existential ethnography. To follow also pointed to the dilemma for the ethnographer of trying to avoid being followed by the bug by hiding behind a mask, while trying to stimulate conducive situations for researcher and interlocutor to follow one another in engaged dialogue. This is just one example of the biosocial inseparability of the bug and the fear it generates in both sufferer and surroundings.
15 Nov 2018

Event (Conference)

TitleAmerican Anthropological Association
LocationSan José
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Degree of recognitionInternational event


  • Antimicrobial resistance, Tuberculosis, Ethnographic methodology

ID: 147230711