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Group of people at a small scale conference in Tanzania

Digital Fieldwork in Africa in a Pandemic

by Aili Mari Tripp, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies

Covid-19 hit just as I was about to embark on a summer of fieldwork in 2020 in Uganda and Botswana, followed by research over winter break and the following summer (i.e., 2021) in Mauritania and Namibia.

Computer screen showing a Zoom meeting

Building Community in Digital Fieldwork

by Jack Rechsteiner and Betsy Sneller, Michigan State University

Like many research programs that rely on ethnographic fieldwork, traditional sociolinguistic research relies heavily on researchers building rapport with participants by spending time in their communities and sitting down with them in person to audio-record informal conversations.

Photo of a cacao tree from a window

Virtual Trust: Building Confidence at a Distance

by Lucia Vitale, UC Santa Cruz

So much of what we do as researchers relies on a foundation of trust built over time with the communities where we carry out research activities. When mutual trust is present, we are invited into the lives, minds, and networks of our research participants, which helps animate our research questions.

Netflix promotional image for “Shtisel,” courtesy of Netflix.com

Television: Let’s Talk About It

by: Laura Yares, Michigan State University, and Sharon Avni, City University of New York

Our current project, Jewish Learning in Cultural Arts contexts, questions the prevailing assumption that meaningful Jewish learning needs to occur in formal, outcome-driven contexts.

Windmill installation

Digital Fieldwork, and the Case for Studying Misinformation as Information

by: Carolyn Holmes, Mississippi State University

In the midst of the February 2021 winter storm that gripped much of the continental United States, a picture circulated widely on social media. While rolling blackouts and power grid failures plagued Texas, tens of thousands of people, including major players in Texas’ oil and gas industry, members of Congress, and other high profile figures, shared and retweeted an image of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine.

Dirt road in Africa

Field research and Covid-19 in East Africa: Ethical and Pragmatic Challenges for Research Design, Data Collection, and Equity

by: Christopher Gore, Ryerson University; Jennifer Brass, Indiana University; Elizabeth Baldwin, University of Arizona; Alesha Porisky, Northern Illinois University

We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, the last week of February 2020. Before officially entering the terminal at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, medical staff, wearing masks, stood at the end of the passenger boarding bridge.