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Bumbling through fieldwork activities

written by Rachel Allison
02/06/20

MAASTRICHT, 2 June 2020—We are pleased to announce another Making Clinical Sense (MCS) co-authored publication, a methodological piece that explores some of the ways in which bumbling through ethnographic collaboration helped bolster accountability within our research team. The chapter is titled ‘Bumbling Along Together: Producing Collaborative Fieldnotes’, and has been published in the edited collection Fieldnotes in Qualitative Education and Social Science Research: Approaches, Practices, and Ethical Considerations, edited by Casey Burkholder and Jennifer Thompson.

 

This Logbook post serves to visually complement the chapter and shares some additional information about how we made collaborative fieldnotes.

 

Like all of our MCS publications, this chapter is open access, and a pre-print version can be found here.

Activity 22 'history', 'find a photograph of your fieldsite from “the past”, photocopy it and cut out elements of it so as to edit/collage it into a new image'. The above activity example was made based on the Budapest fieldsite, Semmelweis University's Department of Anatomy, Histology, and Embryology. Collage by Rachel (‘historical photographs’ 1901 courtesy of Semmelweis University, contemporary photographs taken by Rachel in May 2018).

Below you can find the chapter’s abstract and, following this, figures that can be found in the published chapter, along with those which could not be included in the final publication, but which help to illustrate what the instructions for our activities looked like. We include these here to serve both as inspiration for those visiting this website, and also as a companion to the published chapter.

Abstract

Bumbling along Together: Producing Collaborative Fieldnotes.

Authors: Andrea Wojcik, Rachel Vaden Allison, and Anna Harris.

 

With shifting scientific research practices, team ethnography is becoming more common and visible, partly due to changes in technological infrastructures and funding schemes that support collaborative work. In many ways, the rise of team ethnography also challenges ethnographic practices built around the ideal of a “lone ranger” in the field. In this chapter, we explore one aspect of ethnographic fieldwork that changes in team ethnography – producing and sharing fieldnotes. Specifically, we reflect on our experiences producing “collaborative fieldnotes” across three geographically distant medical schools. Like the anthropologist Janelle Taylor (2014), we recognize the value of sometimes being able to “bumble” – allowing ourselves to be flexible and responsive to our experiences in the field – through ethnography. We suggest that producing collaborative fieldnotes within team ethnography is generative for bumbling along together within what Taylor refers to as “regimes of accountability.”  In addition, allowing ourselves to bumble through producing collaborative fieldnotes helped shape our accountability to each other as members of a team. We draw upon examples of instructing, sharing, and discussing our collaborative fieldnotes to illustrate this formative relationship between bumbling, collaboration, and accountability.

Chapter figures

Producing collaborative fieldnotes

Excerpt from our shared activities table showing tasks for weeks two through four of fieldwork. This table was made and shared as a Word document. A different ethnographer, on a three-week rotation, set each activity: activity 1, assigned by Rachel, activity 2, by Anna, and activity 3, by Andrea. *Removed from published chapter.

Instructing fieldnote production

Activity 15, “smelly objects.” *Removed from published chapter.
Collection of photographs and descriptions of “smelly objects.” *Included in published chapter.

Sharing multisensory snapshots

Activity 23, “a day in the life.” *Removed from published chapter.
Stills from videos, from top: Maastricht, Budapest, Tamale. *Included in published chapter.

Discussing bumbling

Activity 5, “spatial drawings.” *Removed from published chapter.
“Spatial drawings” made by each author. A drawn map of travel to and from fieldwork at the anatomy department of Semmelweis University in Budapest (top). A drawing showing abdominal examination from The University for Development Studies in Tamale (bottom left). A blueprint map of the first floor of Maastricht University’s medical Skills Lab (bottom right). *Removed from published chapter.

 

 

References cited:

Culhane, D. (2016). Sensing. In D. Elliott & D. Culhane (Eds.), A different kind of ethnography: Imaginative practices and creative methodologies (pp. 45-67). New York, NY: University of Toronto Press.

Taylor, J. S. (2014). The demise of the bumbler and the crock: From experience to accountability in medical education and ethnography. American Anthropologist, 116(3), 523-534. doi:10.1111/aman.12124

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