Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: What Is Field Research?

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pp. 1-4

Have you ever traveled for the specific purpose of learning something? Taken a pilgrimage to an ancestral homeland to understand your family heritage? Gone out to a job site to find the facts from the factory instead of the conference room? Stood on a street corner and halted pedestrians to ask survey questions? Interviewed a colleague to learn a different linguistic and cultural approach to a puzzling problem? Crossed an ocean for work, study, or personal exploration?...

Part I: Research Preparation

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pp. 5-6

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1 Framing the “Other”

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pp. 7-16

You’ve hatched the plan, been given a budget, and accepted the assignment. Your project is taking you across the border, perhaps overseas. Maybe it is your first time out of the country; perhaps you have toured the world on student visits or family vacations. One way or another, the mysterious joys and demands of the twenty- first- century world’s flatness and permanent connectivity are taking you somewhere abroad. You’re going into the field....

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2 Developing Your Research Style

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pp. 17-30

On August 17, 2015, Washington Post staff writer Christopher Ingraham published a short blog post on the newspaper’s website: “Every County in America Ranked by Scenery and Climate.” Using an aggregate data map from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Amenities Scale, which rates and ranks US counties on scenery and climate, Ingraham declared Red Lake County, Minnesota, as the “absolute worst place to live in America.”1...

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3 Improving Situational Awareness

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pp. 31-42

You have reflected on your own personal and professional background and explored beyond familiar places. You have recorded observations and chronicled notes in new environments. You do not yet know what to make of the data you’ve collected, but field research has started feeling comfortable. You have been noticing perspectives you once ignored and are imagining what research might look like in a different country....

Review Questions

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pp. 43-44

Part II: The Field

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pp. 45-46

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4 Logistics and Networking

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pp. 47-58

In 2015, I completed a field research project for a client that required a detailed assessment along several international borders in Europe. Originally, I had planned to use public ground transportation to access the areas and then canvas most of the terrain on foot. But as part of my research planning, I also looked into rental car options, locations, and availability.
Once my research partner and I got on the ground, both the research objective and transportation knowledge had changed. The bus network was slower than we had anticipated, and having independent mobility...

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5 On the Ground

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pp. 59-68

The first flight is longer than you would like it to be but not as exhausting as you had feared. Cabins are pressurized at an oxygen level around 6,000 feet, so you eat the meals, drink the water, decline the alcohol, and enjoy the movies. You get up, stretch, and walk around when you can.
You are still tired when you stumble into the customs line at the transfer airport. You hand over your passport, which is promptly stamped and returned for transit. You snake through the duty- free shops and stop to...

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6 The Interview

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pp. 69-80

Interviewing is at the core of any field research project. Interviews come in all shapes and sizes, from a formal conversation in an office with questions in advance to a casual encounter in a mall jotted into a notebook. Along with experiential observations, interviews form the backbone of the two primary means of collecting data for any research project. Interviewing well in the field takes practice and patience....

Review Questions

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pp. 81-82

Part III: Finishing Touches

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pp. 83-84

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7 Objectivity Is a Myth

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pp. 85-94

When I was about six, I discovered a weathered geography textbook that, decades earlier, had belonged to my mother. The flags of every country in the world were listed alphabetically inside the front and back covers. For fun, I drew the flags with crayons and colored pencils, then challenged myself to match as many as possible to the interior maps inside the textbook. The world’s banners fascinated me. I was amazed at how shapes and symbols and fabric and color could inspire such vast differences in identity throughout the world. I still am today....

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8 Telling the Story

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pp. 95-106

You have been back from Lahore for almost ten days now. Pakistan’s daily rhythms have faded from memory; you no longer hear the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of muezzin calling the faithful to prayer five times daily. Your sleep cycle has just reset to your home time zone, and your body has acclimated back to cooler weather after three months of sultry humidity.
The academic fellowship was a success. Your colleagues from the University of Lahore welcomed your collaboration to their philology curriculum and biweekly guest lectures for their American studies graduate...

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9 Coming Home

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pp. 107-112

The assignment is finished. The report is delivered. The brief has been given. You have been there and done it.
Your client was impressed and paid you on time. The department chair attended your presentation, expressed pride in your efforts, and promised future collaboration. The program manager noted your exemplary report to the contracting officer, ensuring another year of funding for your research company.
You are no longer an aspiring neophyte but an experienced veteran.
You have come full circle.
Now what?...

Review Questions

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pp. 113-114

Appendix A. Sample Research Proposal and Travel Budget

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pp. 115-116

Appendix B. Field Research Itinerary Sample Template

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pp. 117-118

Suggested Reading

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pp. 119-120

Source Notes

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pp. 121-126

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 127-128

Index

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pp. 129-132

About the Author

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p. 133