BA's and fieldwork

John Stevens (8859jstev@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU)
Fri, 24 Feb 1995 12:09:01 EDT

This has been a really interesting thread for me, as a student about to
complete his BA in anthro (well, doubled with religion) who is applying to
grad programs and wrestling with the notion of fieldwork. Like John McC.
has noteds,
there are varieties of fieldwork. That's the first variable.
Second, different interests and different programs impact what your options
are: there is virtually no fieldwork provision here at UMB for cultural
anthros, but ample opportunity for archaeological work ( a field school every
summer) and options for "fieldwork" for forensic anthropologists. Of the last
four honors candidates, only one has tried to do a fieldwork-based project,
projects, and (b) is hard to support given our resources. That is another
consideration. Third is this whole ethical/professional question of who should
do what: i.e., are students capable of doing fieldwork, what sort should they
do, what if they screw up, etc. Do undergrads *have* to do fieldwork? Heck,
is fieldwork necessary? If you're in applied work, is it more important to do
fieldwork, and what happens with your results? If you're in "non-applied"
anthropology (and I'm not enamored of the distinction, since by definition what
I want to do is not as 'practical' as applied anthro as currently defined),what
is the "right" sort of fieldwork to do?
I ask these questions because. . . I want some answers, goldarn it! I have had

l implications to just wondering if I'm enough of a "people person" to pull it
off. Also, my interests are equally strewn across several disciplines: do I
"need" to do fieldwork, and how much less of an anthropologist will I be if I
do none, or just do interviews, or whatever? I would be (surprise, surprise)
interested in discussing these sorts of questions. Whaddya all think?

Peace, love, kittens to all (esp. Robert Johnson),

University of Massachusetts at Boston