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Fieldwork, Identities, and Intersectionality: Negotiating Gender, Race, Class, Religion, Nationality, and Age in the Research Field Abroad: Editors' Introduction

  • Candice D. Ortbals (a1) and Meg E. Rincker (a2)

Political scientists who have conducted research abroad experience excitement as well as great disappointment. Meeting and utilizing the help of knowledgeable, responsive interviewees can be exhilarating; yet a cancelled interview, illness, and lack of funds dampens the social scientific enterprise. In this symposium, we discuss the nuts and bolts of field research and we explore the constraints and opportunities that arise from the interaction of researchers' personal identities (gender, race, class, religion, nationality, and age) and their research context. We contend that most training received before fieldwork focuses little, if at all, on the personal consequences of leaving one's home for a year, trying to integrate into another culture, and facing (mis)perceptions based on one's identity. As the quotations above indicate, the symposium hopes to demonstrate how a researcher can be gutsy in the uncharted waters of fieldwork, especially with interactions pertaining to one's identities. Although we acknowledge that no preparation will entirely eradicate disappointing days in the field and misperceptions of identity, we encourage new field researchers and graduate students to be aware that the process of accessing data abroad is an intensely personal one. The symposium contributors are comparativists, mainly at the career stages of assistant professor and recently tenured professor, who have researched in Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, India, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru, Poland, Russia, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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