By: Noella Gray, Catherine Corson, Lisa Campbell, Peter Wilshusen, Rebecca Gruby, Shannon Hagerman
Article Title, Issue and Volume:
Doing Strong Collaborative Fieldwork in Human Geography
Special Issue – Fieldwork in Geography
What is the main purpose of your study?
To explore the possibilities, benefits, and challenges of conducting human geography fieldwork collaboratively.
What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
Human geographers traditionally conduct fieldwork alone – we argue they should consider whether/when/how to conduct fieldwork collaboratively. This has practical implications for: (1) how we teach geographical methods; (2) how we conduct geographical fieldwork; and (3) how we evaluate the results of collaborative work.
How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
This paper: extends existing scholarship that considers what constitutes ‘the field’ and ‘fieldwork’ in human geography; offers a concrete example of slow scholarship; and introduces collaborative ethnographic methods, as developed in other fields, to human geography.
What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
Conducting fieldwork collaboratively can generate new kinds of knowledge and insight that cannot be developed by individuals working alone.
Strong collaborative approaches offer an alternative model for geographical fieldwork, with distinct benefits for researchers.
Strong collaborative research is not properly recognized, incentivized, or rewarded by current institutional practices.
What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
Strong collaborative approaches to human geography fieldwork offer new possibilities for reflecting on the epistemological underpinnings of knowledge claims resulting from fieldwork – in other words, we challenge authoritative, singular interpretations and suggest that robust interpretation of qualitative data makes room for difference.
How does your research help us think about Geography?
Geographers increasingly think about human-environment relationships in terms of networks, assemblages, and systems – ideas that focus on complexity and interconnections. We suggest this kind of thinking needs to be turned toward the research process itself, to consider different ways of doing geography, in addition to helping us think about the object of geographical inquiry.