(Mis)adventures in the field: A frank and open discussion
Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)
Lengthy, embedded fieldwork is one of the hallmarks of the discipline of anthropology. It is also, more so than other research methods, shrouded over with a kind of mystique: a transformative rite of passage as much as a tool of inquiry. Anecdotes about mishaps in the field - bug bites the size of balloons; vindictive bureaucrats - are sometimes selectively unveiled for comedic effect (that's why anthropologists are always the life of the party!) Mostly, we are content to present our sites and subjects in a vague, generically positive light. The intimate and subjective nature of fieldwork, its unspeakeability, has doubtless charms. It can also be a source of unnecessary dread, shame, and confusion for students approaching the field for the first time, or returning from the field laden with ambivalence.
This session will be an attempt to grapple with the joys and challenges of fieldwork by sharing real stories from our time "elsewhere". A panel of graduate students with backgrounds in a range of fieldwork sites will open with personal anecdotes, after which a more general discussion will take place around topics ranging from the technical (e.g. securing institutional affiliation) to the philosophical (ethics, anyone?) to the affective (e.g. managing relationships in the field).