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This setting offers me the unique experience of learning about two culturally different but geographically proximate groups who, despite regular outbreaks of hostility between them, have relatively little contact with each other.
As an ethnographer, conducting research among both Palestinians and Israeli settlers is not an option in terms of building trusting relationships or managing my own emotions about the conflict.
Conversely, Tinder opens up the potential of messaging between unknown individuals, with an explicitly romantic and/or sexual interest.
We are no longer living in the days of fieldwork as a remote exile of Malinowskian standards.
While I did experiment with viewing both women and men, Tinder does not make it possible to converse with users unless they “match” you, which means that as a woman trying to talk to other women who identify as heterosexual is difficult.
With the range of distance that Tinder allows, I discovered users over Israel’s Apartheid Wall in Jerusalem (14km), Tel Aviv (45km), Amman in Jordan (75km), and the south of Lebanon (140km).
Meanwhile Jewish Israelis are forbidden to enter areas of the West Bank designated as Area A – the largest Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jenin, and so on.
There are very few maps illustrating the demographic breakdowns of the Occupied West Bank, not to mention up to date ones as the illegal Israeli settlements continue to expand.It only allows you to be approached by people who you have chosen.As a woman, you are more or less guaranteed matches, conversation, and dates.Imagine the kind of safe, manageable contact with new people you might have.
Now imagine, what this might mean for an ethnographer conducting research in a militarised war zone that is both socially and religiously conservative, divided by strict borders and with little to no contact between the divided populations.
What are the ethical ramifications of using something like Tinder as a research tool?