Tag: Fieldwork Reflections

The Weight of History: Doing Fieldwork as an Ethnic Chinese Researcher

The Familiar Strange , February 27th, 2022

I have been asked about my research in China as a researcher from Taiwan by my colleagues in the US. One of them commented: “It’s not common for…

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The Familiar Strange , September 12th, 2021

Himalayan travelogues are full of stories. For the most part, those stories fall into a specific genre, one that I tend to refer to as “my magical adventure…

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Jathilan Dance: Experiencing the Spirits

The Familiar Strange , August 15th, 2021

yelling, crawling and rolling. Later, they begin to show some animal-like behavior: hissing, roaring and moving on all fours. This is my fieldwork. The place is Java, the…

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Ethnographic Poetry and Academic Writing: A Reflection

Jarrod Sim , June 20th, 2021

“Whatever your eye can see, it’s vecik.” This line resonated with me while I was conducting my fieldwork in Taiwan with the indigenous Paiwan village known as Paridrayan….

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Holding Belief in Suspense

Kylie Wong Dolan , April 11th, 2021

Some months ago, I went for an early morning run with a mate at my fieldsite. After a short trot together, she left for work, and I decided…

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The Fallible and the Untrustworthy: Writing Culture as the Unreliable Narrator

The Familiar Strange , August 30th, 2020

The notion of the Unreliable Narrator is, for me, not a critique of the perceived moral failings of the anthropological project, but a methodological narrative construct integral to…

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Blurred lines and dead chooks in fieldwork

The Familiar Strange , August 2nd, 2020

My own fieldwork experience, like many others, demonstrates a blurring in what is ‘professional’ and ‘personal’, what is ‘leisure’ and ‘work’, whether you are researcher, student, or known…

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Balancing Acts: An Ethnographer’s Thoughts on Studying Religion

The Familiar Strange , May 24th, 2020

Anthropologists sometimes study sensitive topics and it is therefore not uncommon for ethnographic work to attract serious criticism along such lines. In a recent social media thread, I…

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Other People’s Clutter

The Familiar Strange , November 3rd, 2019

perhaps the most perplexing item she had kept from her time was the empty casing of an artillery shell from World War Two. She told me that many…

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I did it for the data

The Familiar Strange , July 14th, 2019

As an ethnographer of porn, I entered the field with some hard limits and never crossed them. I never ended up doing anything I regretted, but the pressure…

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Eating Iran: From the delicious to the inedible

Simon Theobald , June 16th, 2019

I was having second thoughts, but pressed on safe in the knowledge that I was performing an act that would raise my esteem in the eyes of those…

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On Being Declared Missing in the Himalayas

The Familiar Strange , June 2nd, 2019

Neither the Fulbright Commission overseeing my work nor the US Embassy in Kathmandu could contact me and, in the interim, the three other visitors to Mustang had all…

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Anthropologists and Dragons

The Familiar Strange , May 19th, 2019

I surprised myself by not hesitating. Spinning around, I headed straight back toward one of those that had followed us into the alley—a woman in dark robes, eyes…

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On the Heartbreak of Leaving the Field: Falling in love and going home again

The Familiar Strange , October 10th, 2018

My heart was broken not by leaving individual people, but by leaving something much bigger.  It takes us too long in anthropology to learn that the communities we…

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Post-Bureaucratic Stress: Reflections on getting a police check in Vietnam

Jodie-Lee Trembath , September 26th, 2018

Bureaucracy is so deadly dull because it’s so mundane. But, as Steve Woolgar points out in his book Mundane Governance, the Latin etymology of ‘mundane’ is ‘of the…

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The village idiot: Language learning for anthropology fieldwork

Simon Theobald , September 19th, 2018

In preparing for fieldwork, I took a class on language training with Piers Kelly. While Piers was talking more specifically about learning in a context where a language…

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When the world invades “the field:” emotion, introspection, and ethnography

Ian Pollock , August 29th, 2018

It’s been years since anthropology set aside the fantasy of “the field” — a bounded research site, where the locals, and the researcher studying them, are insulated from…

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Beyond Stereotypes: Success, failure, and the complexity of women’s education in Iran

Simon Theobald , August 22nd, 2018

During my 15 months of fieldwork in Iran, the gripe that a bachelor’s degree was now equivalent to that of a high school certificate from a few years…

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