Dispatches from the Field: Neophyte Ethnographers in a Changing World by Andrew  Gardner, David M. Hoffman
235 pages, $28.95 list
1-57766-451-5
978-1-57766-451-2
Dispatches from the Field
Neophyte Ethnographers in a Changing World
Penned by advanced graduate students amidst their dissertation fieldwork, these provocative essays capture the challenges and intricacies of that anthropological rite of passage. The collection’s authors frankly portray the mistakes they made in the field, their struggle to analyze the events unfolding before their eyes, the psychological and emotional frustration seemingly endemic to “doing” ethnography, and the ethical complexities of researching living people. The authors present these essays not as models of ideal fieldwork or as a series of lessons about how to overcome potential hurdles one faces in the field, but rather as a window into the complexities of “being” an ethnographer in the contemporary world.

Against a backdrop of subject populations increasingly informed about global relations of power and, more specifically, informed about the topography of American imperialism, these humanistic essays vividly reflect recent shifts in both the focus and methods of anthropological research, as well as the dilemmas underlying the construction of anthropological knowledge. They are meant to spark discussion and debate. While tailored to an audience relatively new to ethnographic fieldwork (and intended as a teaching tool), this collection should appeal to anthropologists and ethnographers at all points in their career.
Reactions
“This is an excellent volume. Simply put, no other text as effectively engages and compels my students to undertake ethnographic fieldwork of their own. The essays wonderfully convey the many challenges and rewards of doing anthropology, and truly engage the imagination.” — Antonio Sorge, University of Prince Edward Island

“One of the most engaging and provocative contributions of this book is the emphasis on the ethnographer as an emotional being. While this is not a novel concept in ethnography, the originality of these pieces lies in their seeming unfinished and rough-hewn qualities. And, indeed, they are depictions of fieldwork in progress and not the nuggets of ‘lessons learned’ in the field . . . these are fledgling scholars trying to make sense of themselves, their relationship to the people they study and, most important, to a general audience, to anthropology itself. At times they seem courageous, other times naïve. Yet like the up-close-and-personal head shot on television, they draw the reader in and keep their attention riveted.” — International Review of Modern Sociology (Spring 2007)

“Making the challenges of ethnography visible in the lives of other students doing it inspires future ethnographers.” — Kerry D. Feldman, University of Alaska

“This volume presents fieldwork as it is today, and the essays are really good. Students will get more useful information out of this book than they will from reading the conventional, distilled, post hoc accounts of earlier anthropologists. The field situation has changed greatly in recent years, and the editors have put together an important guide to this new terrain.” — Paul Shankman, University of Colorado, Boulder

“This is a phenomenal book! Finally, an unabashed look at fieldwork—with all its attending pitfalls and pratfalls—unburdened by the yoke of theory. The variety of subjects and locales covered in the stories makes the book a great reader for the whole semester. The essays facilitate interesting discussions about the ‘anthropological encounter’ useful for an introductory audience.” — David Chaudoir, University of Arkansas

“This concept is brilliant! Not only is fieldwork learned by experience, but fieldwork is the experience.” — Rita Sakitt, Suffolk Community College
Table of Contents
Fieldwork and Writing From the Field (David M. Hoffman and Andrew M. Gardner)

Swimming Through Fieldwork: Constructing Trust in the Mexican Caribbean (David M. Hoffman)

Sleeping with One Eye Open: The Perils of Fieldwork in a Brazilian Juvenile Prison (Kristen Drybread)

Pangs of Guilt: Transnational Ethnography, Motherhood, and Moral Dilemmas in Central America (Kate Goldade)

The Unwelcome Guest: Episodes from a Year in Bahrain (Andrew M. Gardner)

Of Goats and Foreigners: Research Lessons on Soqotra Island, Yemen (Nathalie Peutz)

Anger Management: Working Through Identity and Objectification in Indonesia (Greg Simon)

Fieldwork in Coca Country: Investigating Democracy and Development in the Bolivian Andes (Caroline S. Conzelman)

Dispatch from the Sahelian Range: Renegotiating Expectations and Relationships among the Wodaabe of Niger (Karen Marie Greenough)

Belief in “Cancer Alley”: Church, Chemicals, and Community in New Sarpy, Louisiana (Gwen Ottinger)

Laboring under Illusionism: Notes from the Study of French Magic (Graham M. Jones)

Bonding with the Field: On Researching Surrogate Motherhood Arrangements in Israel (Elly Teman)

Erasing SARS: Outbreak Reflections on the Ethnographic Process (Megan Tracy)

Initiating Change: Doing Action Research in Japan (Akihiro Ogawa)

The Other City of Angels: Ethnography with the Bangkok Police (Eric J. Haanstad)