Essential field gear

Wed, 4 Jan 1995 10:06:41 -0800

Sun screen. Plenty of pencils and notebooks--the kind with paper pages. Do I
use a computer? Yes. Do I think computers are reliable in the tropics under
rural field conditions? No.

And regarding ear plugs, those who wish to use them are certainly entitled to
do so, but IMHO you are blocking out part of what you are supposed to be
studying. The people you are working with are accustomed to the sounds that
surround them--day and night. Why should not the ethnologist also become
accustomed to them? I do think that sleep deprivation IS a part of many
fieldwork situations, but it usually doesn't last long because one does adjust
to the sounds. If 5 goats can be considered a herd, then I have slept next to
a herd of goats--granted, a rather small herd. The goatherd is more apt to be
awakened by the absence of the noise of the goats rather than the noise itself,
and so should the ethnologist, eventually.

Phil Young