Language in fieldwork: Making visible the ethnographic impact of the researcher's linguistic fluency

Danau Tanu, Laura Dales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2015 Australian Anthropological SocietyThis paper analyses the impact of the researcher's linguistic fluency or competence (or lack thereof) on the data collection process during fieldwork and subsequent analysis. We focus on researcher interaction with the field in a largely monolingual setting in Japan, and the multilingual setting of an international school in Indonesia. Researcher positionality during fieldwork shifts with their (perceived) linguistic fluency, which in turn affects the data. Despite the emphasis on reflexive ethnography, anthropological research rarely interrogates the impact of the researcher's linguistic fluency on the field. We attribute this silence to the perception that highlighting researcher language ability may compromise their ethnographic authority. In this paper we use self-reflexivity to make visible the ethnographic impact that the researcher's language ability has on fieldwork processes. We argue that being self-reflexive about our linguistic fluency, or lack thereof, does not necessarily compromise our analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-369
JournalAustralian Journal of Anthropology
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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