They Want to Use Their Legal Names: Issues of Confidentiality and Anonymity in Ethnographic Fieldwork among Animal Rights Activists

The animal rights movement is situated in a transgressive, counter-hegemonic cultural space, from which animal rights activists engage in public political theatre designed to weaken what they perceive as a hegemonic culture of animal use. Performative strategies employed by activists include demonstrations, bearing witness to the arrival of animals at slaughterhouses, and trespassing on farms to document abuse and neglect. These strategies may be legal, contested, or illegal, but organizations such as Direct Action Everywhere hold the position that its goals are best met without the use of masks or pseudonyms and with the expectation of arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. This presentation discusses ethical considerations for the negotiation of confidentiality and anonymity in an ethnographic fieldwork environment where research participants such as these are openly breaking the law but want their activities and perspectives to be included in the resulting scholarship under their legal names.

Published In: 
Bridging Divides
Bibliographic Entry: 

MacCath-Moran, Ceallaigh. 2020. ‘They Want to Use Their Legal Names: Issues of Confidentiality and Anonymity in Ethnographic Fieldwork among Animal Rights Activists’. Accepted for Bridging Divides: London, Ontario.

Errata and Notes: 

Proposal accepted. Conference canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.