I’m back in the field. This is my fifth trip to research country. I have spent more than two years in the country if I add up all the summers and the year of field research I did here. Though, this trip is my first trip post dissertation. I must say it’s kind of amazing. Having now published an article in a journal and in an edited volume and having written my diss, I have a much better handle on what constitutes data and the threshold of evidence necessary to sustain my arguments. What that means for field work, is that I am not quite so stressed.
Doing dissertation field research was so anxiety filled. I didn’t know what constituted data or if what I was collecting would even be useful. I had no idea what I would or could do with it. I had no idea how much data I needed to write a whole diss. I was fumbling in the dark and it was nerve wracking. I just kept imagining returning to the US with inadequate data and sitting across from my advisor in her office explaining that I would not be able to write my diss. But that didn’t happen and I wrote the damn dissertation.
This time in the field, I have a filter. I know what’s important, what’s not important for my project. I know how I can write something up when I enter the situation or event. I have an idea for chapters in my book, and at this point I even know what data can fit where. So when I went to an event this past weekend, I thought, oh this will be perfect for chapter x on y topic. I dare say that fieldwork has actually become pleasant.