What is Fieldwork?. Anthropology

❖    Doing Fieldwork: Before Entering the Field
o Research Proposal
■    Have a clear proposal and know what questionsyou want answered in the field. Have a theory and a plan.
o Grant Applications
■    Get funding from different organizations including the government for your research
o Ethics Clearance Approvals
o Research Design
o Travel Arrangements
■    Make plans prior to travel (ex. vaccinations, flights, visas, accommodations)
o Packing and more packing
❖    Doing Fieldwork: Once in Field
o Arrival and Culture shock
■    How is once supposed to act in a new place? How to dress? What to do around people? Do you shake hands or hug?
o Choosing a Place to Live
■    Are you going to live with people from there to understand their lives better? Is it safe? Or are you staying in a hotel with colleagues?
o Working around an Unfamiliar Language
■    It may become difficult to communicate with people from another country and you may have to make your own way of communicating
o Gathering / Collecting Data
■    Get the right toolsyou need (ex. camera, recording instruments, laptop etc.)
■    Making sure you keep your notes and records detailed o Interpreting and Reporting Data
■    Having organized notes will make it easier to share your data as the people who are funding you may want to know where their money is being spent
❖    Doing Fieldwork: Ethics
o Accountability o Numerous frameworks / policies often developed by professional associations and by funding agencies
■    Ex. Canadian Anthropology Society/Societe Canadienne d'Anthropologie (CASCA) o Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
1.    Respect for Human Dignity
2.    Respect for Free and Informed Consent
3.    Respect for Vulnerable Persons
4.    Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality
5.    Respect for Justice and Inclusiveness
6.    Balancing Harm and Benefits
7.    Minimizing Harm
8.    Maximizing Benefit
❖    Doing Fieldwork: Data Collection
o Interviews
■    Key informants or participants
■    Effects on informants
o Surveys
o Life Histories
Different Types of Fieldwork
❖    Can Broadly be divided into 2 categories
■    Ethnographic Fieldwork
■    Archaeological Fieldwork (expand more on this during week 7)
■    Are not mutually exclusive, both can occur as a larger research project, and can be undertaken by any type of anthropologist
❖    The Positivist Approach
o Goal = production of objective knowledge o Commitment of explaining how the world works and to a separation of facts from values
❖    The Positivist Approach in Anthropology
o The field is your living laboratory
■    Record objective facts
o Ethics and politics
■    Recognize the relationship that is formed between the informants
■    Acknowledge that anthropologists DO have ethical obligations to other humans (ex. if someone is dying, they help rather than observing)
o Result: Anthropological Fieldwork
■    Cannot be completely value free and anthropologists bias comes in
■    Communicating with people is a dialogue
❖    Reflexive
o "Thinking about thinking"
o Critical, aware
■    While on the field, it is not possible to talk to every person or see everything
■    Avoids generalizations
■    Admits observations are situated
Communities are impacted, they recognize anthropologists as friends
o Detailed, accurate data collection AND consideration of a larger context of the reason
■    Ethical and political context
■    Background of researchers
■    Full partnership of informants
■    The way data is gathered
Become friends with them, their not just informants but help them out
o Single-sited
■    Writing down everything you see, observing anthropology, watching rather than participating
o Multi-sited
■    How do you do fieldwork on cultural processes that are not constrained by boundaries
■    Influenced by 2 important works
-The Modern World System by Immanuel Wallerstein
-Europe and the People Without History by Eric Wolf
•    How does our perspective change based on our position (slavery - slave or slaver, different viewpoints)
■    Focuses on widespread processes
■    Leads researchers from site to site as develops chain
■    Limitations
•    Dilution of intensity of fieldwork - relationships may not be as strong in some areas as they were in others (spending 8 days with people is diluted vs. spending 8 months) You learn different amounts about people
•    May undercut commitments to primary informants
Effects of Fieldwork
❖    Effects on Informants
o Disruption of understanding self and the world
o Economic gain or loss
o Change in status
❖    Effects on the Researcher
o Culture shock - figuring out how to live again
o Sense of isolation, vulnerability
o Shock of “otherness”
o (De) sensitization
❖    Humanizing Effects
o Become friends, experiencing the “other”
o Disagreement - informants may disagree how their culture maybe submitted and may not end up wanting their articles published
o Open ended
o Reflexivity o Production of anthropological knowledge

Materials by theme:
Studying Culture Lections