If Truth Be Told: The Politics of Public Ethnography
Didier Fassin is James Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, a Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and the author and editor of many books, most recently, Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition.
The subject Unni Wikan deals with exposes those who study it to difficult ordeals: the relationships between Muslim migrants and their European host communities. She experienced this peril with two of her books, which generated fierce criticisms: one contested the widely celebrated success of multiculturalism in Norway, and the other accounted for an honor killing in a migrant family from Kurdistan. In such cases of polarized moral passions, the efforts to render the complexity of the situation and maintain a critical stance are met with suspicious or even hostile reactions from all sides. It is noteworthy that Norwegian anthropologists have been particularly successful in producing public debates on contemporary social and cultural issues.