How Does Gender Shape Fieldwork Experiences?

We recently published Femininities in the Field edited by Brooke A. Porter and Heike A. Schänzel. In this post the editors explain why the book is necessary and what they hope will be achieved from its publication.

Gendered actions have been receiving quite a bit of press lately, and rightly so. While much of the press has been focused on power inequalities, some attention has been given towards gender equalities. With the academy far from being viewed as gender equal, our motivation for the book is to explore how femininities shape fieldwork experiences in the social sciences, specifically in tourism. Research in the field has long been considered as a masculine act in a masculine space, with the idea of the lone-researcher at the forefront tracing back to anthropological endeavours. For many researchers, this narrow construction can be intimidating. Yet, for any researcher in the field, we argue the undeniable influence, both positive and negative, of gender on fieldwork.

A main aim of this book is to describe gender as a variable worthy of attention, in the field, in the analysis, and in the reporting of any piece of research. Through fifteen self-reflexive analyses (including two by men), our contributors reflect on past fieldwork experiences through a gendered lens. Tourism research was the common thread for all contributors, but the experiences are diverse and without doubt, transdisciplinary. From tales from marine mammal research in the high seas to the party-filled streets of Mallorca, each contributor provides an explicit account of how gender affected their fieldwork. The diversity of the contributions became most apparent to us when it came time to choose a cover. We simply could not find an image that could effectively convey the book’s contents. After nearly twenty correspondences, we ditched the idea of an image and decided on a multifaceted illustration. The colourful graphics depict the diversities, and the expressions convey many of the heartfelt emotions revealed in the book.

This book is meant to be a tool for researchers at any stage in their career, for supervisors and mentors, and for committees involved in the fieldwork process. It is both a tool of reference and a path forward.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Ethnographic Fieldwork by Jan Blommaert and Dong Jie.

Midsummer at the Sociolinguistics Symposium

The opening reception
The opening reception

Last month Tommi and I attended the 20th biennial Sociolinguistics Symposium which took place in Jyväskylä, Finland.  We were very much looking forward to the conference and visiting Finland at this time of year, as the 24 hour daylight makes “Juhannus” (Midsummer) a really special occasion. Tommi, being an English-Finnish bilingual, knows the country, language and culture well and was able to explain all the traditions of “Juhannus” to me, as well as translate many footballing terms as I attempted to follow the World Cup on Finnish TV!

Our stand was well-placed in a lovely, airy atrium where the coffee breaks were held. It was a really lively space as the delegates streamed in between sessions to socialise over the coffee and Finnish culinary treats.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Finnish food that I tried during our stay and particularly enjoyed Karelian pies (rice pies), Rieska (potato flatbread) and Reindeer stew.

Author Lyn Wright Fogle signing a copy of her book
Author Lyn Wright Fogle signing a copy of her book

As well as co-manning our stand Tommi ran a lunchtime workshop on publishing an academic book and took part in the roundtable entitled “Academic publishing and access to knowledge: A discussion on current trends, challenges, and possible futures”.  Such events are great ways for us to engage with the delegates and hear their thoughts, questions and concerns about academic publishing.

As usual, we brought a wide selection of our latest books with us and the delegates snapped up the special conference discount that we always offer.  The bestselling books of the conference were Identity and Language Learning (2nd Edition) by Bonny Norton, Jan Blommaert’s two books Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes and Ethnographic Fieldwork (with Dong Jie), the new 4th edition of Colin Baker’s best-selling book A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism and Flexible Multilingual Education by Jean-Jacques Weber.  The latter two books are both part of our trial bookmark scheme which you can read about here.

The Midsummer bonfire
The Midsummer bonfire

To make the conference extra special, the organisers arranged for the delegates to enjoy traditional Finnish Juhannus celebrations by running a lake cruise to a Midsummer party on an island.  There we enjoyed a kokko (bonfire), buffet and humppa dancing. Much fun was had by all before we travelled back in the extraordinary midnight sun! Thank you to the conference organisers for putting on such a fun evening and doing an excellent job at hosting the conference.  We are already looking forward to the 21st Sociolinguistics Symposium.

Laura

An Interview with Dong Jie

Having just published Discourse, Identity, and China’s Internal Migration by Dong Jie we wanted to know a bit more about her and her research so we asked her a few questions.

Why did you choose to research discourse and identity in China?
Questions on language and identity are always close to my heart, especially those on China because it is a rapidly changing society where new patterns emerge and negotiate with the old ones.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
My book looks at identities at various scale levels that interact in the same ‘synchronic’ realities.

If you had the time and resources, and a willing publisher, what would be your dream book project?
My dream book project would be a monograph on my ethnographic fieldwork journey in Beijing, a dynamic global city that witnesses fascinating encounters between different traditions, values, and languages.

Which researchers in your field do you particularly admire?
Quite a number of scholars have impacts on my research, such as Jan Blommaert, Sjaak Kroon, Ben Rampton, Li Wei, Gao Yihong, Normann Jørgensen, Dell Hymes (through Jan Blommaert), John Gumperz, Michael Silverstein, Nancy Hornberger, to name just a few.

What’s your favourite place that you’ve travelled in the course of your research?
Yun Nan Province in south China

What books – either for work or for pleasure – are you reading at the moment?
I am re-reading Bourdieu’s Distinction and Logic of Practice.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing books?
Travelling, cooking, swimming.