Anxieties of instrumentalism in fieldwork relations

From “On Sentimental Education among College Students,” by Portia Sabin, one of the only other anthropologists of universities to have done her dissertation in this field (most such anthropologists started studying universities once they already had tenure):

I went to Kat’s room to ask her something and found her on the phone and her friend Laura sitting on her couch bed. It appeared from Kat’s tone that something was wrong. I talked to Laura for a minute, and when Kat got off the phone I asked her what was the matter. She told me to sit down. Then she said, “Are you just going to use this for your study?” I asked her what she meant. She said, “You like me, right? You’re my friend, right?”

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