|<< <||> >>|
For 3-4 months I’ve been so immersed in fieldwork that I’ve taken it to be my one and only life. Vaguely, I’ve remembered that there exist a parallel universe up north (which seem to be my one and only life when I’m not elsewhere), but it wasn’t before I actually dipped back into that life for 9 days that it all crashed back into my conscience: There is an office there waiting to host me at inhumane working hours in just a few months time. There are students to be taught and colleagues to exchange with, and loads and loads of books to read… (Unfortunately, there isn’t any home with a view over Oslo to hibernate me, my plethora of succulents and dusty books anymore…).
When I entered the field again after a short trip outside of it, I couldn’t get one sentence from a book on anthropological method and the darker arts of fieldwork out of my head:
“Is seduction one of our darker arts? As craftspeople, are we so crafty that others don’t know when they are being seduced?” (Wolcott 2005: 141).
I realised that I’m so crafty when doing fieldwork that the participant role of my persona seduces even me. I appear so sincere because I belive it myself. I want to stay here (or in London when I was there), it’s my genuine one and only wish. For the moment. I also tell people that I’m here to write a thesis and yes, it is actually my paid work to hang around in bars listening to slam poetry. But I forget at the same time that what I’ve been doing the last months, is not part of my life-to-come but part of my academic career. I suspect people around me are more aware of the fact that I’m simply dropping in and then out of their lives again, than I am myself. But I wouldn’t be surprised that the genuine enthousiasm I express by saying that I want to settle here helps strengthening my relationships with people. Wolcott calls this superficiality and seduction the darker arts of fieldwork. I was surprised to realise that my self-deception actually is treated in a book on fieldwork methods.
Both my fieldworks have been in environments close to my own interests. I could have been – and I surely would have loved to be –hanging around with policial activists in Brixton and mucisians in Tower Hamlets as well as slammeurs and slammeuses in Belleville, even without the excuse of doing fieldwork. Partly, I see this as a more honest anthropology as it is entirely based on the idea of an anthropology without radical difference, and more so, I don’t have to fake or hide anything – not what kind of information I’m looking for, neither my political views, my artistic interests and my way of life in any sense. On the other hand, as I’ve found myself asking the last week; what if I’m faking it all (so well that I believe it myself!), getting access through this perhaps naïve enthusiasm.
“Fieldworkers willing to make research commitments on such a grand scale [as to spend at least 12 months away from home] are also likely to be overcommitted in other aspect os their lives,” Wolcoff writes (2005: 117), and he continues further down: “Fieldworkers have an understandable but perhaps unfortunate tendency to represent themselves not only as different from those who do quick-and-dirty studies but somehow as more sensitive and caring humans as well.”
Ever since my early teens, perhaps my whole life, there has been a tension between the safe framework of academia and the attraction of adventurous escapes. In Oslo, the adventurer apparently does the head in on my entourage, and here she has been pushing the academic in the background for a while now. But almost as the conflict is about to be won, the adventurer evaporates into a cunning and crafty anthropologist…? Is that how it is?
|« Fieldwork fatigue ...and outline from the end to the beginning||Hierarchy… work ethics and myths… and fieldwork »|