I was asked last semester to give a presentation at AU on unexpected fieldwork challenges. Since I was giving the presentation via Skype (I’m based in San Francisco), I knew I wanted visuals to anchor my talk, especially if something were to happen to the connection (and as it turned out, the video feed didn’t work).
So, I went through photos from fieldwork and found trotro (Ghana’s infamous bus service; watch Trotro Blues) and taxi emblems that succinctly summarized some of the points I wanted to share. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather, quick bits easily recalled in moments of fieldwork panic:
1. Be Patient: Fieldwork is challenging. Things will not go according to plan and this should be expected. Be patient with yourself and the process.
2. Simple Living, High Thinking: Try not to overcomplicate things. What do you want to know, and how can you find it out? Who might be able to help you get answers?
3. Self-care is Essential: When challenges arise, be kind and forgiving to yourself. Take breaks. Sleep in. Reach out to support networks.