Short Course: Improvisational Pluralism in Field Research 2: Troubleshooting in Field (QMMR2)

Improvisational Pluralism in Field Research 2: Troubleshooting in Field (QMMR2)

Colin Ellman
Half Day, 1:30 – 5:30 PM
Washington State Convention Center, Room 609

There are strong professional incentives to collecting one’s own data in graduate school, and original fieldwork tends to yield compelling projects. The search for the most compelling possible project can sometimes entail risks, however. This is the second of a two-part short course aimed at two audiences: (1) graduate students considering or conducting fieldwork, and (2) early-career advisors and mentors who navigate dissertation prospectus advising roles. This session focuses more on troubleshooting research and designs that may involve weighing risks to subjects or researchers. This bleeds into issues of psychological and physical well-being, professionalization, management, self-presentation, and professional ethics. The course theme is “improvisational pluralism”: an ethos-based appreciation that fieldwork rewards an ability to improvise and adapt when constraints are discovered or things go wrong.

Since many of the salient adaptations in the past year have responded to pandemic restrictions, there is a special emphasis in the afternoon panel on internet-enabled research, “virtual” fieldwork, and common issues related to fieldwork in dangerous settings. We envision three different modules, separated by small breaks and a robust Q&A among participants.

The fourth module, led by Jennifer Cyr, will discuss emerging issues related to virtual fieldwork, conducting interviews over Zoom, the recruitment of long-distance samples, and the like.

The fifth module, with Sarah Parkinson and Jesse Driscoll, will focus on planning, self-presentation, and troubleshooting for research designs in zones of contested sovereignty or authoritarian governance.

The sixth module, led by Calla Hummel and Dana El Kurd, will address common mental health issues involved with both fieldwork and professional re-entry after fieldwork.

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