David Laitin reflects on lessons learned from a lifetime of fieldwork -- and imagines the road ahead. How did watching the Sardana folk dance in Cataolonia reveal the limits of Gramscian hegemony as an explanatory framework? After one just decides, in middle life, to "learn Russian", how does one get started? How does one arrange to take a family, with two young children in tow, to Nigeria? True adventures on the social science frontier, as narrated by a uniquely experienced voice of authority.
Sarah Cameron (University of Maryland) shares practical advice for conducting archival research in non-English languages, based on her her experiences living in Kazakhstan conducting research for her award-winning HUNGRY STEPPE: FAMINE, VIOLENCE, AND THE MAKING OF SOVIET KAZAKHSTAN. Why start with children's elementary school textbooks to develop a research vocabulary? The podcast's first bona-fide historian!
David Cunningham (Wash U St. Louis), next in our "when the field is home" series, discusses the archival and interview research that yielded KLANSVILLE USA: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS-ERA KU KLUX KLAN and THERE'S SOMETHING HAPPENING HERE: THE NEW LEFT, THE KLAN AND FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE. How do we mentor graduate students planning work on topics that will put them in close proximity to dangerous political actors? The podcast's first bona-fide sociologist!
Kanisha Bond (SUNY Binghamton) on doing participant observation on the contemporary Antifa movement, the blurring of the line between researcher and activist roles, thinking about America as a comparative case, and thinking purposefully about the need to sometimes step back from research that can be repurposed by the state as op-sec. The third in our "when the field is home" series.
Tariq Thachil (UPenn) is the first in a "when the field is home" series. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being able to present as a local? Is being ambushed on social media part of what we should be preparing students for? Does it "count" as ethnographic observation if you are also looking for measurable indicators for quantitative tests as you go? How should we teach THEFT OF AN IDOL?
Zachariah Mamphilly (CUNY) answers the big questions about agency and responsibility. What does it mean to be an oppositional intellectual in the field of political violence? Should we expect any accountability for the role that our field has played in legitimizing the war on terror as we chase grants and policy relevance? As we professionalize our students, who are we teaching them to write for?