Category: "Fieldwork"


06:27:18 pmCategories: Fieldwork, Places, Anthropological notes

Fieldwork fatigue ...and outline from the end to the beginning

“[O]ur work cannot transcend being a human endeavor, with attendant costs as well as benefits” (Wolcott 2005: 141)

Earlier this week, I got ditched on one of my first interview rendezvous. [I later learnt that yes, he had been there, in exactly that huge, rather kitschy Indochinese colonial style bar … My incapacity to find him just proves that I’m suffering from fieldwork fatigue…]. Since it’d been a hard day after another sleepless night, I decided to neither wait longer than 25 minutes, nor phone the person, but instead walk off into the busy street at Place de Pigalle. For once, I was in a place without my bike and with nothing planned. I decided to walk back east, following a boulevard one probably cannot find anything like anywhere else in the world, through Pigalle and Anvèrs (tourists, sexshops, local Americans and ordinary inhabitants), Barbès (French Arab quarter for several generations) and La Chapelle and Stalingrad (crowded, noisy and polluted with traffic, known for its social deprivation and heroin). By quieter and gentrified Canal Saint Martin (where students and artists, tourists and homeless picnic side by side), I know a nice little bar, with three tables outside and a few more on the inside, wooden, brown and sympathetically worn down. They play mostly French music, a little bit punkish, a little bit of Mano Negra, some French Tom Waits, a little bit of Balkan-gipsy style that is so popular here… While I wouldn’t dream of drinking a glass of wine alone in public at Zorba or Les Folies 10 minutes away up in Belleville, I don’t hesitate at Café Jemmapes. After my 40 minutes stroll, I sat down quietly and listen to the chattering around me and watched the people sitting by the canal. I started on this blog post but soon realised that perhaps following an advice from The Art of Fieldwork could help me in my state of fieldwork fatigue:

Read more »


The art of fieldwork

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:

Read more »


11:49:19 pmCategories: Fieldwork, Politics, Distinctions

Hierarchy… work ethics and myths… and fieldwork

I realise – as I read an interesting comment in Le Monde on, of all things, why the Toyota model can’t be French – that I haven’t written any posts on hierarchy yet. My cahiers and mind are full of speculations of quite another sort than on French business and work place interaction – for instance I’m thinking about what I can make out of the coincidence that the two last books I’ve read are called the art of something (loving and fieldwork to be precise). Thus, I’m relieved to find another reason for choosing this subject for a post after such a long silence in the blogsphere; it’s unforgivable to have written 69 blog-posts from France without mentioning hierarchy and arrogance!

Read more »


Discussing slam poetry on TV and the schism in French slam

When I was contemplating a title for this post, the first thing that came to mind was the revolution will not be televised (Gil Scott-Heron’s eternal phrase). This association might seem a bit far off, but watching TV as rarely as I do, makes me surprised how crappy that medium is to pass on intelligible and sensible information. (Apropos French elitism versus Norwegian anti-elitism which I wrote about some posts ago; stating that one doesn’t watch TV is commonplace and almost expected in my circles in France, in Norway on the other side it’s seen as verging on elitism :D )

The show in question is a 30 minutes “debate” on French slam between four slameurs and an interrupting and not very knowledgeable journalist, called “Slam: from the bistro to the telly” (Slam: du bistrot à la télé). It was broadcasted 13.11.06 on France 3, and to my knowledge it’s not widely discussed in slam circles, and when it’s brought up it’s mostly in order to diss the fourth participant, which will also be my subject in this post (in addition to dissing TV in general)… I found it on the Internet here. In addition to a lot of interruptions and all-speaking-at-the-same-time (typical French TV entertainment), it also contains some throwing of water and some short slam performances. I’ll give a short résumé…

Read more »


01:24:49 amCategories: Fieldwork, Music, literature, arts...

L’anthropologue se cache pour écrire…

Friday 9th of March, Café Culturel, Saint Denis (93)
This evening I should have been on the 129H’s monthly slam session at Lou Pascalou, in Rue Panoyaux next to Metro Ménilmontant. 129H is one of the older slam collectives. I’ve seen the members around on various events, but not yet on their monthly open microphone soirée.

However, I’m almost a little relieved that I finally have caught the Parisian spring cold, so I can spend a few days at home, trying to catch up with what has been going on the last week. I’m starting to get the reputation of being on all events “everywhere”. It’s a nice reputation to have, but very tiring indeed to keep up with….

Read more »


10:36:58 amCategories: Fieldwork, Spaces

Back in the field

Yesterday brought me no less than two très belles coïncidences. First – as I told yesterday – the issue of Le Monde I got on the Air France flight had assigned a whole page to my research object, the very reason for which I was coming down to France again this week; the French slam scene. (Today it’s Libération’s turn). The second coincidence was almost as belle; as I strolled around in my beloved Belleville/Ménilmontant neighbourhood I spotted a poster in a window announcing that the historian Pascal Blanchard, coeditor of La fracture coloniale, was having at talk at the local library 2 hours later. La fracture coloniale was in fact the very book I decided at the last moment not to bring with me here, as I would have little time for reading, - but which I’ll have to read as soon as I get back, since I’m writing an essay on the current struggle over history going on here.

Read more »


10:20:23 pmCategories: Fieldwork, Music, literature, arts...

Some French slam poetry web sites

Oh, no not one of those days… Here I sit, it’s Friday evening, people I know get together to drink beer not far from here right at this moment, I could be there, or I could go to see Resistance(s), a screening of short films from North Africa and the Middle East at the Cinemathèque, but no, what am I doing, yes, I sit at my office, looking out of the window at the excellent weather… - well, now the full moon is up… - doing some kind of silly quasi-academic work… And it will take me ages to get all these links right…

Time is overripe for finding out more about slam poetry, the phenomenon by way of which I’ll try to understand and describe La France Métissée. I bumped into the Parisian slam scene with almost no prior knowledge, and for two months I hung around at various slam soirées in eastern Paris and her hot suburbs, just experiencing what was going on.

Read more »


- my research project so far (part 2): Parisian slam poetry vs British Asian ethnogenesis

In the second part of my presentation, I moved on to the particular field where I hung around and conducted anthropological fieldwork proper; thus participated as I observed or vice versa. As some will already know, that field is a slam poetry scene in Paris. I’ve written about it here already, and I’ll surely return to it, so I’ve not found it worth translating that part of my presentation here. Instead, I’ll reflect a little around the comparison I’m intending to make between the slam poetry phenomenon in Paris and the cultural expressions which constituted a core element in my study in London. In the third and final part of this post, I’ll try to recall the questions I got after my presentation.

Read more »

Pages: 1 2 4 5