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Since October 2005, I’ve been blogging from my fieldwork experiences right amongst the Parisians, but from now on this is - hélas – no longer the case. I’ve returned to Oslo with all my fieldnotes, photos, impressions and sentiments, and after living and working autonomously for 10 months, I’m now trying to reintegrate into the office environment (as well as my Oslo life). Since my intention with this blog has been to document not only how my fieldwork developed, but also the rest of the research process, I’ll try to keep on blogging from the office.
From my (new) office at the University of Oslo, I’m looking down at one of Oslo’s more well-off neighbourhoods, with multicoloured wooden villas, all with neat gardens dotted with apple- and various other trees. (While (the lack of) mixité social seemed to be an ever-present matter of concern in Paris, I don’t find it to be that much of an issue here).
From one corner of my office window, I see the light blue Oslo tramway passes every fifth minute or so, and from the other I see a red brick church at a small tree-covered hill. When I lean a bit over my desk, I get a glimpse of the clear blue Oslo fjord with some blue hills on the other side. Far away, climbing up another hill, I see what must be a banlieue, with its high-rise buildings from the 1960s. The university campus itself is situated up-hill from the centre as well. All these hills I’m describing remind me of a funny incident when someone who knew my street in Paris described it as “the one that goes up”. I was struck by surprise for a second, when he said that. Yes, elle monte un peu, but what surprised me was that I had never even noticed the slight rise. Looking at the geography of Oslo – and even more so at the hilly city of Trondheim, where I lived the first twenty or so years of my life – one easily understands why.
So, from this office with this view, I hope to get on with stage two of my research project. From documenting research-in-progress during fieldwork, where theoretical and analytical discussions have been scarce or absent, I think the blog posts the next months will take two distinct but intertwined directions. On the one hand, I’ll write explicitly research-focused posts on how the project develops as I read, write and discuss my work. On the other hand, my mind keeps creating small (phenomenological) blog posts on my experiences in Oslo and how that contrasts with Paris. I think writing about such ethnographic contrasts can have several functions. As I experience them, they will probably take part in shaping my attention in the following stage of the research process. They can also perhaps be stepping-stones for a possible future fieldwork in Oslo. We’ll see we’ll see. I don’t know if I even can manage to experience, and write about, Oslo as I experienced and wrote about Paris.
The two following posts will be one in each direction: First a research centred post about the ethnographic status quo of my project, as I presented it at a multidisciplinary seminar last week, then a Norway/Paris contrast-focused post on techniques du corps (where cycling plays a part, of course).
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