This book offers students an invaluable look at what cultural anthropologists do when they are in the field. Through fascinating and often entertaining accounts of their lives and work in varied cultural settings, the authors describe the many forms fieldwork can take, the kinds of questions anthropologists ask, and the common problems they encounter. From these accounts and the experiences of the student field workers the authors have mentored over the years, In the Field makes a powerful case for the value of the anthropological approach to knowledge.
George Gmelch is Professor of Anthropology at the University of San Francisco and Union College. He has published fourteen books and has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Psychology Today, Society, and Natural History.
Sharon Bohn Gmelch is Professor of Anthropology at the University of San Francisco and Union College. She is the author or editor of ten books, coproducer of an ethnographic film, and the winner of several awards including Ireland’s Book of the Year.
"A treasure trove of fieldwork experience! Where was this book when I was trying to uncover the mysteries of ethnography? If the devil is in the details, then the Gmelches have banished him with a richly woven tapestry of insights into the questions that we all are plagued with when doing fieldwork."—Alan Klein, author of Dominican Baseball: New Pride, Old Prejudice
"There is no better review for students of anthropology of the travails and exhilaration of ethnographic fieldwork than this examination of over forty years of their research by the indomitable and inexhaustible Gmelches. Whether with students or on their own, from Ireland to the Caribbean, Tanzania to Tasmania, Sitka to Napa Valley, among urban nomads, dockworkers, migrants and baseball players, George and Sharon Bohn Gmelch show how ethnography as method and methodology has been transformed as anthropology has matured, diversified, and expanded. I envy all those students who had a chance to learn about anthropology from them, and I encourage all who are curious about what it takes to be an anthropologist to savor this treat of a book."—Thomas M. Wilson, Professor of Anthropology, Binghamton University, State University of New York
“This is an outstanding resource for introducing and teaching the craft of anthropological fieldwork. George and Sharon Bohn Gmelch are consummate, inveterate fieldworkers who convey vividly the challenges and pleasures of their own wide-ranging research and the projects of their students, in the field and in the classroom. It is instructive, engaging, and inspirational.”—William W. Kelly, Professor of Anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies, Yale University
"Engaging, candid, and always thought provoking, In the Field provides an exceptional guide to the practices and possibilities central to an ethnographic sensibility. The authors draw upon a remarkable range of field experiences to shape an exemplary case for how and why ethnography makes a difference."—Don Brenneis, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
"This useful and entertaining book can teach us about fieldwork. The many case studies range from nomads in Ireland to middle-class Japan, from applied anthropology in Alaska to field schools in Africa. The up-to-date topics include ethics and computer privacy, collaboration and team work, and bringing family and children to the field. Thank you George and Sharon!"—Nelson Graburn, UC Berkeley
"In the Field is a wonderful book by two anthropologists who've done it all. Reflecting on their fieldwork around the world, the Gmelches show how fieldwork transforms professors and students alike. Their book gets to the core of anthropology, offering inspiration to those who tread the same path."—R. Kenji Tierney, State University of New York, New Paltz
"This book is a remarkably refreshing reminder of fieldwork’s centrality as a rite of passage for anthropologists to establish collaborative, professional, respectful relationships with people around the world. These stories illustrate that despite forty years of changes in global trajectories and technology, the enduring ethnographic challenge is to forge meaningful connections that improve understanding among people."—Bill Roberts, St. Mary’s College of Maryland