Session 4

Navigating your Field: Moving forward with Awareness

This session involves learning from the experiences of the invited academics who have undertaken long periods of fieldwork in their career. Students are broken-up into two groups, each with between 4-5 academics to whom they could discuss issues raised during the course, as well as a series of specific questions that they may have in light of the readings they did.

The questions and concerns raised in these discussions show the deeply reflective practices that accompany the fieldwork as an academic practice. They also suggest the diverse set of issues that need to be discussed as part of training the students to undertake fieldwork. Some of these questions are:

  1. We prepare for fieldwork, but how do we deal with the experience of ‘coming back’ from the field?
  2. How do we maintain our mental health and wellbeing in the field? What are some useful and practical strategies?
  3. How can we write critically about people we have come to care deeply about?
  4. How can we write critically about the organisations we are working with, when we are grateful to them for their support?
  5. How do we describe the field in terms of digital ethnography?
  6. What are the diverse ways in which one can think of the idea of being a researcher, and people being the ‘subject’ of your research?
  7. How can we make sure that we are accountable for the representations of people and the place of our work? What does this practically look like?
  8. How can we better share knowledge about the practicalities of the field: i.e. problems with eating certain types of food (if your vegetarian for example), difficult locations, our ethics as researchers, issues around confidentiality, problems with learning the language, problems with building social connections?
  9. When do we know how much data is enough??? How do we think around accessibility to the field, or to certain people in the field, in terms of gender, sexuality and culture/custom practice.
  10. When should we change location or change our research question? How will we know?


Do you have questions of your own? Click through to the discussion forum and share any fieldwork concerns or suggestions that you may have.