Fieldwork, Ethic and Anthropology


Fieldwork, Ethic and Anthropology

Discuss fieldwork, ethics on methods and tools of the anthropological trade. Every fieldworker has been faced with questions regarding their own work and how they should proceed. This group should also used as an introduction to fieldwork issues.

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Latest Activity: Jan 12

Discussion Forum

Action Anthropology and Sol Tax in 2012: The Final Word?

Started by Joshua Smith Apr 3, 2013.

IRBs, confidentiality, and sharing research data 2 Replies

Started by Erica Fontana. Last reply by Erica Fontana Oct 14, 2011.

On (Not) Sharing Fieldnotes 3 Replies

Started by Joel M. Wright. Last reply by John McCreery Sep 30, 2010.

Comment Wall

Comment by Vitor Emanuel Ribeiro Teixeira on June 4, 2009 at 7:26pm
Welcome to all!
Please leave a comment with some information about your current or past fieldwork experience for the rest of the group!
I'll start:

Current research is on the construction of violent social actors. Fieldwork nowadays resumes to interviewing violent juveniles, convicted violent criminals and building the life stories of some of them. Also includes spending some time on the communities these subjects are from and learn by direct experience some of the pressures they may have been subjected too. (its a resumed fieldwork, but i hope you get the point)
Former experience includes 8 month in Cairo, Illinois, working alongside architect students and professors on a reconstruction plan for that ghost-town. My work here was basically do a little ethnography of the remaining population and community, and help to adapt the architectural projects to that specific community.

Who's next?
Comment by Francine Barone on June 4, 2009 at 8:06pm
Hi Vitor,

I conducted 15 months of PhD fieldwork (2007-9) exploring the impact of new technologies on communication and perspectives of modernization in Catalan society. Both the urban setting of my fieldwork and the "digital" nature of my research entailed complex methodological and ethical concerns in data gathering. I'm interested in web-based ethnographic methods (not only on their own, but together with corresponding/complementary 'on the ground' equivalents) as I believe they are becoming more and more relevant to anthropology as a whole. For instance, what does it mean for informed consent, anonymity and responsibility to participants when aspects of your engagements are indexed by Google?

I look forward to interesting discussions here.

Comment by Denice Szafran on June 4, 2009 at 8:40pm
Francine, I would like to pick your brain on methodology. I am undertaking my PhD research next spring, looking at play, performance, and politically embodied public space as expressed by digitally instigated groups in real space, and it is a methodological labyrinth. This discussion of fieldwork and ethics is a good idea, and something we really need to do.
Comment by Greta Kliewer on June 5, 2009 at 4:21am
Hello all! My own fieldwork has been very limited so I expect I will be learning more from you all than you will from me, but I'm always up for a friendly conversation. :) My only fieldwork was over 3 weeks last summer on the island of Gozo, Malta, looking into how tourism has affected the role of bread and the bakery in the Maltese community. I wanted to see how such a staple of the local diet (and a culinary claim to fame) has been impacted by outside sources, and how that has affected Gozitan identity. Looking forward to hearing more from everyone!
Comment by Khari La Marca on June 9, 2009 at 2:04pm
My current research (dissertation research) is on memories of the 1948 Nakba in the West Bank, Palestine. I have not gone to undertake this yet, but rather, I have been conducting exploratory research on memory in Zanzibar where I am looking at memories of men and women who experienced the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. I've been here in Tanzania for almost 1 1/2 years now.
Comment by Karl A. Hoerig on June 9, 2009 at 9:51pm
As an anthropologist working for a Native American tribe in a tribal community, I am “in the field” every day and reminded daily of the ethical issues that surround every aspect of the anthropological enterprise. Among my primary concerns is finding ways to ensure that the work in which we engage has relevance and value for our subject communities as well as for our academic audiences. My ongoing work includes several threads of ethnographic and ethnohistorical research for the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the development of interpretive materials for exhibit, publication, and educational use.
Comment by Patty A. Gray on June 12, 2009 at 6:01pm
Most of my fieldwork has been conducted in Chukotka, a region in the farthest northeast of Russia (on the Bering Strait). I've studied indigenous activism there, as well as the impact of Russia's privatisation programme on rural communities during the 1990s. Most recently I was in the Russian Far East city of Magadan studying Evangelical Christianity and foreign missionary activity/humanitarian aid, and soon I will begin fieldwork on a project examining Russia's growing profile as an international development aid donor and what sorts of Russian development professionals this might produce. I am now kept away from the field most of the time by my full-time job as a lecturer at a university in Ireland (National University of Ireland Maynooth, which has the only department of anthropology in the Republic of Ireland). I am the lecturer of the undergraduate core course in anthropological fieldwork methodology, and chair of the university's social science research ethics committee. So I am concerned about ethics from two perspectives: 1) our practice as anthropologists during fieldwork; 2) protecting our practices from over-zealous bureaucratic regulation at our home institutions.
Comment by ESWARAPPA KASI on September 19, 2009 at 7:15am
I am Dr. Eswarappa Kasi is currently Guest Faculty and taught a course titled ‘Tribes and Other Backward Communities in India’ to Integrated Masters (IMA) Students in the Special Centre for Integrated Studies (SCIS) and Department of Anthropology, University of Hyderabad, India during January- May 2009 Semester.
In the coming semester (July-December 2009), I will be teaching a course titled ‘Fieldwork and Research Methods’ to Integrated Masters (IMA) Students in the Special Centre for Integrated Studies (SCIS) and Department of Anthropology, University of Hyderabad, India.
PhD Topic: “An Anthropological Study of Livelihoods: A case of Two Sugali Settlements in Ananthapur District of Andhra Pradesh”.
Link to my PhD Thesis:
M.Phil Topic: “Developments and Change due to Sericulture: A Village Study” in Chittoor District. The study analyzes the upliftment of rural Livelihoods (sericulturists) of Kotha Indlu village, as a result of Implementation of Development programmes, as part of M.Phil.

Masters Dissertation: “Life Cycle Rituals among the Koyas of Boddugudem: An Ethnographic Study”. The study is conducted in the village of Boddugudem in ITDA, Bhadrachalam, to find out the role of life cycle rituals and their belief systems in their daily life activities, as part of MA course.
My new book based on my M.Phil Work is being published titled as ‘ANTHROPOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT IN A GLOBALIZED INDIA: AN ETHNOGAPHY OF SERI-CULTURE FROM THE SOUTH’, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Isbn13: 978-1-4438-1345-7, Isbn: 1-4438-1345-1
Book Link:
This book seeks to portray sericulture as a crop enterprise which is emerging as one of the foremost significance for theoretical and methodological understandings in the disciplines of sociology and social anthropology in India. Thus, anthropological analysis of sericulture and its emergence in development literature gives us an idea of the activity leading to further theoretical and critical studies. Anthropological understanding of sericulture and its development, as studied by scholars of different disciplines across the states of India, is therefore thoroughly explained. Sericulture is best suited to a country like India where manpower and land resources are in surplus. It generates direct and indirect employment in various ways. More and more farmers in India have taken up sericulture activity which, once confined to only five states, has now spread to almost all the states of India. Sericulture also creates gainful employment for women and aged people at home with minimum risk. Thus, the analysis clearly establishes the importance of sericulture over other agricultural practices in the generation of fresh employment opportunities in rural areas. Further, it is shown that as a predominant sector of rural development, stability is the vital requirement for sericulture enterprise.

Special Issue Editor- MAN IN INDIA Journal:
2009 Jointly with (Dr. R. Siva Prasad) Special issue Theme on ‘Issues and Perspectives in Anthropology Today’ for the Journal MAN IN INDIA, (Vol. 89, (I &2) 2009). In this anthology, we have taken a specific device to highlight the trends of research in anthropology and through which multifarious human dimensions conditioned by present day circumstances principally in Indian Contexts which have been explored.
Edited Books:
1) Dimensions of Social Exclusion: Ethnographic Explorations, jointly with K.M. Zoyauddin , Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, (http://www.c-s- Exclusion--Ethnographic-Explorations1- 4438-1342-7.htm). Isbn13:978-1-4438-1342-6, Isbn: 1-4438-1342-7
2) Ethnographic Discourse of the Other: Conceptual and Methodological Issues, jointly with Panchanan Mohanty, and Ramesh C. Malik , Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing (
ISBN: Isbn13: 9781847185839, ISBN: 1-84718-583-5 (Hardback)
ISBN 13: 978-1-4438-0132-4, ISBN: 1-4438-0132-1 (Paperback)
Edited Books (In Press):
1) Jointly With (Ramesh C. Malik) ‘Theory and Practice of Ethnography: Readings from the Periphery’ Rawat Publications, Jaipur, India.
The book Theory and Practice of Ethnography is an anthology of research papers contributed by illustrious scholars from India and abroad. Theoretical and empirical layout of the Ethnography, Language, Literature, Culture, Rethinking History and Social Development are significantly accentuated in the present book. Ethnography is highly entertained in the search of the concept of the other which is elaborately discussed in the book. The main emphasis of the contributions highlight the deprivation-economic, social, cultural and linguistic among the marginalized groups of Indian society mainly; women, tribal, and the downtrodden. Ethnography is both a process and a product, in this direction, the entire exercise in this volume focuses on applying the different methodological tools of ethnography.

2) ‘Rethinking Developmental Discourse in the 21st Century India’, New Delhi: Serials Publications, 2009.
In order to understand the dynamics of development in the 21st century India, an attempt is made in the book to address the themes which cover the range of theoretical and empirical understandings in the field of interdisciplinary works of scholars drawn from across the disciplines. Thus, it makes a link between field experiences and the classroom debates and discussions. The book also tried to portray the debates of contemporary developmental discourse and how far are they reaching to the common man or the poor in the contemporary Indian Society.
Comment by Micol Brazzabeni on December 9, 2009 at 5:56pm
Hallo all!
my fieldwork is in south portugal, in a small town, with a gypsy homeless family.
My research issue is about social suffering and (im)mobility.
I'm actually confronted with a "closing" fieldwork cause the family "incorporates" my presence and my person in a family closed system of relations, preventing me to get out.
My relation is good and intimate. but what about the significance of my fieldwork?
some suggestions?
Comment by Neil Turner on March 25, 2010 at 1:58pm
Today, there is a great deal of discussion on the importance Brasil maintains to the Western hemisphere and for that matter the world while at the same time there is a growing recognition that there exist rapidly changing levels of societal development that are defining this nation.

I have been in Brasil for almost three years conducting ethnographic research. My research focuses on the lives of Brasileiros that live in the bairros and favelas of Brasilian cities. The purpose of my research is to document the manner in which urban life and culture is being dramatically transformed as a result of the tremendous and rapid growth Brasil is experiencing at the beginning of the 21st century.

My approach is influenced by the work of both Clifford Geertz and Benedict Anderson and as such, I attempt to conduct my research from an interpretive stance focusing on the symbolic in anthropological analysis of culture using ethnography as my approach and qualitative observational research methodologies. In order to maintain credibility of my data, I attempt to triangulate my research by utilizing a holistic perspective that employs naturalistic inquiry, personal contact and insight, and context sensitivity. I am interested in examining social structures, religious life, health, education, family life, local politics, how people make a living, how food, clothing and shelter are provided, obligatory forms of exchange, production and consumption, relationships, illnesses, death, violence, and any other details that attract my interest.

Moreover, I am not interested in examining abstract entities, looking for right or wrong answers or in search of universal laws. Rather, I am interested in interpreting this culture’s enigmatic symbols, in isolating its elements and specifying the internal relationships among those elements. It is for this reason I have remained in Brasil for so long and intend to remain longer because I believe it takes literally years to “peel” through the layers of social camouflage in order to penetrate to the deeper layers of cultural elements and meanings in this society.

Further, I am aware of the dangers of approaching the study of culture as subjective or objective, modern or traditional, designated by or supposed by social dichotomy and think that such an approach is limited and misleading. In my research, I try to avoid reductionist or cognitivist perspectives that attempt to analyze culture by formal methods similar to those of mathematics and logic. I am most decidedly interested in attempting to examine the interrelationships and signficance of cultural meanings and how they vary according to the patterns of life.

My influence from Anderson is evidenced by seeking to reveal a fundamental correlation between the structural invariables of culture and the consciousness of community. It has at its roots that which seeks to characterize the community as a deep, horizontal comradeship. As such, I am seeking to characterize the local and greater community in some general way, according to the core symbols around which it is organized, the underlying structures of which it is expressed, and the ideological principles upon which it is based.


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