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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Taras Fedirko (University of Cambridge)

When Jan 31, 2020
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room, Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Taras Fedirko (University of Cambridge) 

Follow the money: suspicion and expertise in an offshore investigation

What role does suspicion play in investigations of offshore corruption? What does suspicion ‘feel’ and look like? And how does one learn to suspect? Building on fieldwork with anti-corruption investigators and campaigners in London, this paper reconstruct one investigation of potential corruption, conducted by an organisation called Global Witness, to argue that in the context of their work, suspicion is both a technique of expert inquiry, and its product. In the face of impenetrable offshore secrecy, suspicion for the investigators is both a tool of arriving at expert understanding of offshore corruption, and an orientation that helps them overcome the limits of this understanding, in order to make political claims that go beyond what is strictly afforded by evidence. Revisiting recent arguments in the anthropology of knowledge that explore the relationship between certainty, doubt and suspicion, I argue that epistemic expertise can, in some cases, provide imprecise and suspicious understandings of its objects that are useful despite, or even because of the ambivalence and suspicion they entail.

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