Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Getting ready for fieldwork

MP06-00261Make prayers to the sun: do laundry (one load to be deferred) and hang to dry

Locate all equipment (open every drawer; check every dark corner at the back of shelves and cupboards)*

Charge everything up

Replace batteries

Lay out field kit on living room floor: ready for grabbing at a moment's notice

Anticipate crises that will erupt as a result of not having email for X days. Preempt crises

Listen to old field recordings; make copies of songs and stories for field distribution

Prepare slideshow of old photos for show-and-tell in the field

Review kinship notes to memorize new names

Prepare lecture notes for post-fieldwork teaching

Backup hard drive

Time every activity down to the final second

Pack and run

* laptop, iPad, camera, videocam, digital voice recorder, GPS receiver, microphone, solar lantern, notebooks, pens. The camera generates its own accessories: spare memory cards and batteries, external flash, lenses.

Photos: field journal from 1993 and kit from 2009. Embarrassing display of excess, but this is what fieldwork has become. Anthropologists like myself have become cyborgs.

Kevin (see comment below) asks what happened to participant observation? My answer: (in my case) still going very very strong. But complemented with a lot of documentation and new gadgets to do it with.

Next: after fieldwork


  1. what happened to participant observation along the way?

  2. Thanks for the question, Kevin. My response as a PS to my post