19 SES 11, The Role and Experiences of Writing in Ethnographic Research
Writing fieldnotes are an important part of ethnographic writing. Often an ethnographer spends incredible much time writing them. That’s perhaps why they may take on certain sacredness. They are often seen as very personal texts and they are seldom shared. However, fieldnotes can be a crucial source for a shared analysis. In two ethnographic research projects fieldnotes were used for a joint analysis and for developing articles together. It was inspiring seeing how differently researchers were writing these fieldnotes and it showed that this sort of text is a rather neglected one despite its importance for ethnographic work. Being able to write good fieldnotes is a craft and one must gain confidence in this skill. Discussing fieldnotes got an important feature of my research seminars. Sharing and discussing fieldnotes showed that there is a lot of vulnerability of the researchers involved with exposing oneself because of this intimate form of writing. They are a form of auto-ethnography: We can re-work our experiences, feelings and struggles into the fieldnotes and re-construct our researcher-self in them. In this paper it will be discussed which place fieldnotes got in my own academic work and this will be related to experiences of colleagues.
Clifford, James (1990) Notes on Fieldnotes, in R. Sanjek (ed.) Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology, pp. 47–70. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Emerson, Robert M., Fretz, Rachel I. and Shaw, Linda L. (1995) Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Jackson, Jean E. (1990a) Déjà Entendu” – the Liminal Qualities of Anthropological Fieldnotes, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 19: 8–43. Wolfinger, Nicholas, H. (2002). On writing fieldnotes: collection strategies and background expectancies. Qualitative Research. 2(1): 85-95.
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