ISLA MUJERES ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELD SCHOOL DETAILED FIELDWORK OVERVIEW
WHAT TO EXPECT -- AND WHAT IS EXPECTED OF YOU
We pride our program on being one of the most comprehensive and engaging ethnographic training programs available worldwide -- from the creation of new, innovative, and important applied research projects; to the development of theory and intervention models. Our students, and their studies, are serious...and we would not expect any less. This program is not simply 'discussions about methods' nor is it merely 'cultural immersion.'
Advice to future students: Come prepared to do some great research. You might be very new to the field, or have already have achieved your Ph.D. We have hosted students ranging from early undergraduate, recent BA graduates, those in the MA program or with an MA, to those who have already earned their Ph.D. All receive the exact same training, tailored to their individual level of experience. This program will sharpen your skills no matter what level of proficiency you have attained -- academically or professionally. We seek not to simply learn about how to understand methods and how to actuate them, but also to learn about the philosophy of the ethnographic research endeavor. How to envision the field.
Students of anthropology or other social sciences may have experience doing field work for a class as part of a specific class as an undergraduate; this is usually in conjunction with a methods course. More advanced students, like a doctoral student, might experience a much larger ethnographic project, but feel that they were not given enough guidance on how the methods play out in real time, or how to think about them theoretically. Our program aims to reduce the anxieties of field research, and to allow the ethnographer to visualize the field and find harmony between personal interest, theory, methodology and application -- all through thoughtful, critical experiential learning -- what we call field-craft training.
FIELD CRAFT 1: RESEARCH DESIGN, METHODS, AND FIELD PREPARATION
Part 1: Research Proposal Development
Dates: Date of program acceptance - May 31 [Online]
Required for all Advanced Methods Students Only
For our Advanced Methods students, this phase has two parts. The first part is the creation of a Research Proposal. The earlier we start this process, the better, as a good research proposal takes a lot of time, careful thought and effort. It is preferred that the student starts work on developing their proposal as soon as they are accepted into the program. Students will want their proposal to have a very good first draft by the start of the second part of this phase. Students must develop an informed research proposal based on the Wenner Gren Foundation format for proposals prior to their arrival to the island. This will not only save a lot of valuable time in the field, but it will also relieve a great deal of stress once they are in the field because they will have more informed ideas and formats for their personal research. The earlier you apply, the more time you will have to develop your research proposal.
Part 2: Ethnographic Methods Lecture Series
Dates: May 13 - 31 [Online]
Required for all students
This is where all of the students begin their methods lectures and discussions on line. Students will participate in lectures about specific methods and how they may, or may not, apply to their individual projects. Lectures and discussions will be held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a few hours (this schedule is flexible based on what is best for the group) where they will first discuss the progress of their proposal as a group, and then engage in discussions-lectures on various ethnographic methods that they will then put into practice through a variety practical exercises and field challenges.
Methods Practicum and Remote FieldCraft students will become very familiar with the proposed research project and can also select one or two of the Advanced Methods projects that they would like to participate in. Research teams will be formed that will include one Advanced Methods Students and a mix of Methods Practicum and Remote FieldCraft students.
FIELD CRAFT 2: FIELD RESEARCH
All students will participate in online lectures from May 13 to 31
Advanced Methods: June 1 - July 13 [6 Weeks]
Duration: 6 weeks in the field
Practicum 1: June 1 - 22 [3 weeks]
Duration: 3 weeks in the field
Practicum 2: June 22 - July 13 [3 weeks]
Duration: 3 weeks in the field
Remote Fieldcraft: June 1 - July 13 [online]
Duration: 6 weeks online only
During this phase Advanced Methods students will carry out the independent research projects that they have worked so hard to create. This is the meat and potatoes of Ethnographic Research; observing what people do and talking to them about how they feel about specific things in their lives. Students will be expected to go out in to the island and meet the locals who live here, engaging with people face to face, one on one, or perhaps in groups. They will actively participate in local cultural activities, embracing our central grounded theory method: Participant Observation.
There are two Methods Practicum sessions that those students can choose from The first three weeks of a project, or the second three weeks (or both if they choose, but extra time in the field must be discussed well in advance). Regardless of which the student chooses, they will also participate in online discussions about the projects throughout the 6 week period (even when they have left the field), as members of a research team (or two).
They will also develop their skills in other qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Some interactions will be informal in nature, while others will be more formal. They might experience eye-opening casual conversations with a variety of people from different walks of life, or find themselves in intense discussions of social issues with government and non-government leaders and stake-holders.
Writing Field Notes, In-Field Analysis, Transcribing and translating Interviews (often in Spanish, requiring laborious translation for some) and other tedious tasks must be completed diligently during this phase. The Philosophy of Ethnographic Research, ways of visualizing theory in practice, seeing social structures and the inter-relatedness of it all will be central to this phase. The main theme of this phase, aside from data collection, is the development of a way of seeing anthropologically: Creating a critical ethnographic lens.
Advanced Methods Students are the “Principle Investigators” (P.I.) of their own research project. Dr. Pierce will act as the Research Director.
Methods Practicum students will be Field Researchers on the project(s) of their choosing (unless the PI of a particular project decides they would rather work alone). These students will have already become very familiar with the various projects and will collect essential data, as well as transcribe and analiize data.
Remote FieldCraft students will also be very familiar with each project and will act as Researc Support for the team(s) they choose. These students will engage in transcribing, translating and analyzing primary data coming from the field. They will also conduct a wide range of data collection online via secondary sources (like census and other forms of government and non-government data) as well as metadata collection and analysis (via social media platforms, news reports, etc), assisting on integrating the primary data with wider forms of viewing the research subject.
FIELD CRAFT 3: DATA ANALYSIS AND ETHNOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATION
DURATION: A FEW WEEKS TO A FEW MONTHS
Ethnographers are story tellers. Interlopers who engage in cultural processes that they themselves must represent in a way that both the subjects of their research and the outside world can understand. They are here to explain complex social processes in a way that can be understood by the outside world.
This phase of Field School is of equal importance to the first two. It completes the three phases of professional research: Create an informed and meaningful project; conduct that research in a professional and scientific, yet ethical manner; and present your data to those whom you conducted research with as well as your colleagues and the world.
Students will dedicate themselves to creating two written pieces: The first is an academic journal article to be designed within the guidelines of an actual, reputable academic journal of their choice, depending on their research project's specialty area. The student is expected to submit this article for publication in the journal they have selected.
Each student will also create a condensed version of this paper to be delivered orally in an American Anthropology Association standard conference paper. Each Advanced Methods student will create a conference paper (with the help of their team/co-authors), where they will have 15 minutes each to present their research findings. This will be done as a pre-recorded oral presentation that will then be presented to the public on the Field School’s facebook page for anybody in the public to view and comment on..
Students will also create and submit a new Curriculum Vitae (CV) to the Field School for our files.
For the journal articles, once they have left the field, Principle Investigators will work with Dr. Pierce in creating academic journal articles with the hope of submitting them, being accepted and getting published. This can take some time to do, of course. But that is part of what we are here to do. Students can opt out of this phase, of course. But our hope is that, after all of the training and research, each P.I. will follow through with this phase and see the project through to publication. We have had some amazing publications in the past and we hope to have many more to come. After some initial meetings between the P.I. and Dr. Pierce, meetings will be established that include all of the team members on that particular project to discuss what will be needed from everybody to complete the publication. Any team member who has contributed to the project in a meaningful way (data collection, analysis, etc) can be a co-author on the publication. Meaning Methods Practicum and Remote Field Craft students can be authors on the publication as well.
NOTE: This phase does not have to be rushed, though we encourage that students dedicate the time needed as soon as possible. The more the data sits on a back-burner, the less likely a finished product will be produced. Besides the obvious advantage of having methods training and time conducting research in the field, having a journal article is a nice addition to the CV.