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Rural-Urban Difference and Student Fieldwork



This article compares the research and field experiences of students studying in rural villages with those studying in a city. The student subjects are participants in two anthropology field training programs (rural Barbados and urban Tasmania) designed to give them a hands-on experience of anthropological fieldwork. The comparison of rural and urban field schools reveals that the students doing fieldwork in the city have: 1. greater difficulty identifying a “community,” and locating informants, 2. gather far more of their data through interviewing where the village fieldworkers do more participant-observation, 3. are less immersed in their research, and 4. have a more difficult time adjusting to doing “fieldwork” but otherwise an easier time adjusting to the culture, which is more similar to the North American urban and suburban backgrounds from which they come. Also discussed are some changes that were required in supervising student research in the city.

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