Me again: Fieldwork, practice and returning
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Sharma, S. (2019). Me again: Fieldwork, practice and returning. Area, 51 (3), 508-515. https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12493
Many researchers return to field sites that are previously known in different capacities, thus upturning traditional notions of the “field,” particularly in qualita- tive fieldwork, of unknown places whose depths the researcher encounters anew. Returning in a different capacity affects not just the researcher, but also partici- pants, and raises questions about research ethics with regard to changing position- ality. This paper looks at the process of returning to a field that is already “known,” not just through books and writing, but through first‐hand experience. It explores the dynamics underlying the process of returning as a researcher, when one has a previously established identity in a place, in this case as a development worker. The paper will explore the nuances of attempting to bridge the divide between being a development worker and then a student doing ethnographic field- work in Assam. It will debate whether it is possible, or useful, to abandon one role for another. It also looks at the way a change in role affects the way we gain access, as well as how returning as a student reveals certain blind spots in the understanding of the field as it was known. Finally, the paper attempts to under- stand how changing positionality affects ethical concerns, such as those of how to engage as an outsider, and whether each return is marked by a different process.
Gates Cambridge Trust, University Fieldwork Fund Award
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12493
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/287665