Writing opacity: Going beyond pseudonyms with spirit portraiture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What does it mean to go beyond pseudonyms? Building on fieldwork with privacy and data protection advocates in Germany, this article incorporates ethical imperatives coming from within and beyond the field, to develop a different mode of writing it calls spirit portraiture. This entails characterizing natural persons, without including any personal data through which they could be re-identified, with or without the use of computing. Drawing on three ethnographies that already go beyond pseudonyms, it repositions the axis of representation away from revelation and concealment—that pivots around a monist notion of empirical truth—towards opacity and legibility—that pivots instead around its own point of intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalPolitical and Legal Anthropology Review
Issue number1
Early online date6 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


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