ROLE NEGOTIATIONS AMONG STUDENTS AND NATIVE SPONSORS IN AN ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELD SCHOOL

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Abstract

This chapter examines how the relationship between the community sponsor or host and a student's own research goals interrelate. The common issues all students face as they enter the field include establishing rapport, identifying potential participants, and setting reasonable expectations for themselves and their hosts. A good field experience rests on trust and the positive relationship established by the fieldworker, whether student or professional. In the initial stages of rapport building, students are usually extremely careful of their relationships. The ability to situate one's self within the community as an ethnographer is one of the most important skills required of young researchers, and this skill is best acquired through guided practice. For faculty, providing such guidance requires a delicate triangle of approaches, evenly balanced in terms of supervision, support, and knowing when to let a student muddle through on her own. Fieldwork is still, to a great extent, a “seat of the pants” experience. To adequately capture this dynamic, a field school experience should provide enough opportunities for self-directed action as possible, while always ensuring that in the end, the student succeeds. Two of the most beneficial skills or traits for successful fieldwork are patience and flexibility. As most students say, and as other chapters in this volume illustrate, the field school experience is most often a catalyst for growth, maturation, and increased self-awareness. It is also a major contributor to a student's choice of a future career.

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