Join current folklore graduate students and scholars for a panel discussion and Q&A on fieldwork experiences and what to expect (or unexpectedly encounter!) while in the field.
Panelists will discuss their fieldwork (their research questions and contexts) as well as a specific topic from their experience that is interesting and helpful for graduate students about to go into the field.
Stephanie Aubry (Lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese) researches rumors related to security and democracy in contemporary El Salvador. As part of this work, she traveled with different NGOs and served as an international observer in the 2018 and 2019 elections. Stephanie will discuss the difficulties she encountered negotiating the boundaries between scholarship and activism during the election observation missions, and the steps she took to develop ethical research practices.
Afsane Rezaei (PhD Candidate, Comparative Studies) will discuss the ways in which being a "halfie" ethnographer may positively or negatively impact one's fieldwork and how to navigate this position in the field. Afsane will share some of her experiences doing fieldwork with Iranian Muslim women in Southern California (including some near-failure episodes!), and offer insights on how to navigate the halfie positionality--particularly as it relates to ethnography of faith--while maintaining ethical research.
Meng Tan (Ph.D. candidate, Folklore) studies how a village's past works on its presence. When she was doing fieldwork in southwest China, she noticed that personal narrative and observing people's practice were good ways to get a better understanding of the place and events. In this presentation, Meng will focus on " who I am" to share her experience of researching within a multi-discourse context and discuss the double identity as a researcher and a human being.
Ehsan Estiri (PhD Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures) will discuss his fieldwork with Iranian communities in LA, and how his research question was (re)shaped during the process. Ehsan will address how and why the formation of research question in ethnography-based research should be part of the research method; what he refers to as “humble method”—a methodological counterpart to humble theory as formulated by Dr. Noyes and others.
(**Event image courtesy of Ehsan Estiri, from a 2018 rally of Iranians in Los Angeles in opposition to the Islamic Republic.)