Contemporary anthropological fieldwork in North America incorporates multiple voices, communities, and disciplines. As an archaeologist who has conducted summer field research for nearly thirty years, I have witnessed numerous changes in practice, scope, and collaboration through the years. Archaeological research is team research. We work with local communities, but we also form temporary residential communities for months at a time. Like ethnographers, being “in the field” immerses the primary investigator in unfamiliar cultural and geographic surroundings. Unlike ethnographers, these individuals simultaneously are responsible for a cast of assistants and students and families also experiencing the isolation of being away from home while living with strangers. We thus often find ourselves working in a mini-field within the field. In this presentation, I will summarize several case studies that highlight my experiences, lessons, and challenges in directing fieldwork in contemporary archaeology.
Laura Scheiber is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at IU, and the director of the American Indian Studies Research Institute. She received her BA and MA from the University of Wyoming and PhD from the University of California-Berkeley. She is an anthropological anthropologist with a research emphasis on the North American Plains. Her research interests focus on the material and social effects of colonialism, multi-scalar analyses of residential spaces, bison food processing, long-term social dynamics, landscape use, place-making, and ethnohistory. She conducts field research in Wyoming and Montana.
Round Table Summary Statement
Reports from the Field: Lessons and Challenges of Contemporary Anthropological Fieldwork
A Round Table Series at the American Indian Studies Research Institute
This series of round table talks features conversations with contemporary fieldworkers of anthropology and related disciplines with an emphasis on the Americas. Anthropologists from all sub-fields have long histories and traditions of what constitutes fieldwork. However, the nature of “being in the field” has changed in the last decade. Fieldworkers are re-examining their own positionality, a process that may be unsettling while also offering the promise of a renewed relevance of Anthropology. This series is interested in the practical side of fieldwork in Anthropology that is useful to the needs, agendas, and self-perceptions of indigenous and local communities, while producing work that contributes to anthropological research and theory. Of particular interest is innovations in methodology, ethical issues, emergent forms of collaborations, and more generally testimonies of lessons and challenges from well-meaning practices of inclusive fieldwork.