LESSONS FROM THE NAVAJO: THE IMPACT OF A “GOOD” FIELD EXPERIENCE ON A CAREER

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Abstract

While many other professions and disciplines have institutionalized the concept of a professional field experience, American anthropology offers only inconsistent opportunities for students to gain extended hands-on training in anthropological methods and skills in real-life settings. A good ethnographic field experience can be a powerful mechanism for training students to experience research first hand, to understand the dynamics of field work, to reflect on ethical issues, and to discover whether the role of anthropologist fits. This retrospective account of learning from a veteran of Northwestern University's Ethnographic Field School illustrates the lessons provided through the research experience, the interpersonal experience and the personal experience, and how those lessons carried forward through a career. This account suggests that a “good” field experience can build knowledge, skills, and values that are transferable to other settings.

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