Ethnicisation of the Research Field

Whereas the research meticulously paid attention to including the diverse backgrounds of the interview partners into the analysis and to deconstruct particularly ethnisicing processes, the research was itself part of ethnicising processes. I chose to focus on Calatasaray and Fenerbahqe for my research project because these two clubs were the most compelling ones due to their significant fan base in Vienna and their sometimes intense rivalry performances that were celebrated and performed in pubs and on the streets. Even if the approach to the research field was intended to avoid ethnicisation by focusing on club affiliations to Fenerbahqe and Calatasaray, it nevertheless resulted in an approach via a constructed Turkish community. Thus, the constructed research field became ethni- cised in the sense that the one thing that all the diverse interview partners had in common was exactly their love of Turkish football.

The researcher does not only construct a research field in terms of approach, choice of interview partners, selection of what to write down in which way in the fieldnotes and so on (cf. Knecht 2013), a researcher also strongly influences the dynamics in a field and the answers in an interview. Sometimes it was important that I was a woman, sometimes it was crucial that I had a similar, higher or lower educational background, and sometimes my Cerman nationality was most important to my interview partners. All these attributions immensely impacted the way people behaved around me and also decided how they responded to the questions that I asked them in interviews - and the other way around. The controlling image that has been particularly relevant for the role of the researcher was the one of the ‘ignorant German’. During the whole research this controlling image strongly influenced my behaviour in the research field. I wanted to distance myself as much as possible from this image which is why, for instance, some questions were left unasked.

My different affiliations (woman, German, academic and so on) decided upon the places and people I had access to and generally they strongly impacted which people and places I chose to research - thus they impacted upon the very construction of the research field and also about its ethnicisation. This ethnography, like every ethnography, is a constructed representation and othering practice towards the ‘researched’ (Schiffauer 2002). It becomes clear how strong and dominant ethnicising practices are not only in the everyday lives of Fenerbahqe and Galatasaray fans in Vienna but also among football and migration researchers. This does not necessarily mean that these processes need to be ‘avoided’ by all means, because their dominant-hegemonic discursive power would not allow that anyway. But, these processes need to be disclosed where they are hidden and therefore seem ‘natural’ and they need to be critically reflected on to reveal their social construction and hierarchies.

I agree with Regina Romhild (2014) that we need to include questions of migration into all our (ethnographic) studies because migration is a regular part of society. Conducting research on migration aspects ‘only’ cannot reflect social processes but can only be a limited one-dimensional perspective on our everyday lives. Therefore, the intersectionality of different social factors such as gender, class, subculture, sexuality or age needs to be included in the research to emphasise the multi-dimensionality of people’s lives. Very much like the fields of female fandom or queer fandom, it is the future task of football researchers to include aspects of migration in the research arena about football fan cultures. Thereby, these aspects of fandom ideally have to be analysed as regular parts of football fandom and not as random phenomena because these different actors have long also claimed the football field for them.

 
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