When in the Field (1)

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Blogger Nadya Karimasari is in Indonesia to conduct her preliminary fieldwork. This is the first of a series in which she will share her experiences.

How are you, Wageningen? I am curious because currently I am in Indonesia. The reason is threefold: to avoid the light snow in winter wonderland, I mean Wageningen (hello, sunshine!), to visit my parents and mother-in-law for some time and to conduct preliminary fieldwork for two months. The objective of this preliminary fieldwork is to visit and explore several potential research locations in order to choose one site for my year-long research that will start in August this year.

I found that what constitutes the “field” or research location is not entirely as clear as I had imagined it would be. From the Netherlands, we arrived at my hometown, Yogyakarta, on New Year’s Eve. I was overjoyed to meet my parents and brothers. My plan was to have an exclusive family time for a while and then fly to the potential research field in North Sumatra and Aceh.

From the Netherlands, we arrived at my hometown, Yogyakarta, on New Year’s Eve. I was overjoyed to meet my parents and brothers.

But, when in Yogyakarta, my husband received a text message from one of my informants, a bureaucrat and authority figure, who was also in the same town during that time. In other words, the second day after I arrived in Indonesia, when the euphoria of the New Year celebration was still lingering in the air, I already had to start working. I had to meet my key informant because he had to fly to Jakarta the next day. Does this mean my preliminary fieldwork started then? Does it mean my hometown is also part of the “field”?

It was funny because I was on the road with my family to buy some groceries when he asked me to meet with him. I was not prepared at all but I went to meet him anyway. I didn’t bring my recorder. I didn’t even bring any notebook or a pen! He kindly gave me his new notebook and pen. He even played with my son and entertained him. I kind of like this familial approach.

It felt like a good start. Then, immediately afterwards, I fell ill. And then my husband fell ill. And then my son fell ill. I started to worry: in these conditions, when will we be ready to go to North Sumatra and Aceh? (to be continued)

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Author: nadya

on-going tensions between ready-made values and uncharted territory

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