Books for Field Research in China
Doing fieldwork inside the PRC is an eye-opening but sometimes also deeply frustrating experience. Fieldwork-based studies form the foundation for our understanding of Chinese politics and society, but there are conspicuously few detailed descriptions in the China literature of how people actually do their fieldwork, and of the problems they encounter. This lack of public methodological debate not only undermines academic standards of openness: it also stalls constructive discussion on coping strategies to shared problems, and it leaves graduate students going to the field for the first time with a feeling of being the only ones to encounter difficulties.
In this volume scholars from around the world reflect on their own fieldwork practice in order to give practical advice and discuss more general theoretical points. The contributors come from a wide range of disciplines such as political science, anthropology, economics, media studies, history, cultural geography and sinology. The book also contains an extensive bibliography.
This work is of relevance to post graduate students from the social sciences and humanities who plan to do fieldwork in China; to experienced scholars who are new to the China field; and to experienced China scholars with an interest in methodological issues.
In the late 1970s and ’80s, socialist countries in Asia began reopening their borders to overseas scholars. Today, a growing number of social scientists are embarking on fieldwork in China, Vietnam, and Laos. Red Stamps and Gold Stars brings together all the messiness, compromise, and ethical dilemmas that underscore fieldwork in upland socialist Asia and elsewhere in the Global South. These challenges can range from how to gain research access to politically sensitive border regions, to helping informants-turned-friends access appropriate health care, to reflections on how to best represent ethnic minority voices.
The human geographers and social anthropologists contributing to this volume are actively engaged in research with ethnic minorities in upland socialist Asia. Accomplished geographers, anthropologists, and ethnohistorians, they foreground the importance of questioning one’s subjective gaze and of debating representations of “the other.” Reflecting on the realities of fieldwork in socialist regimes and analyzing their positionality and subjectivity in the field, the contributors debate a range of ethical quandaries and the rewards that can be gained from critical reflection. Together, these unique contributions will advance the study of the practice of international fieldwork.
Contemporary Chinese Politics: Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies considers how new and diverse sources and methods are changing the study of Chinese politics. Contributors spanning three generations in China studies place their distinct qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in the framework of the discipline and point to challenges or opportunities (or both) of adapting new sources and methods to the study of contemporary China. How can we more effectively use new sources and methods of data collection? How can we better integrate the study of Chinese politics into the discipline of political science, to the betterment of both? How can we more appropriately manage the logistical and ethical problems of doing political research in the challenging Chinese environment? In addressing these questions, this comprehensive methodological survey will be of immense interest to graduate students heading into the field for the first time and experienced scholars looking to keep abreast of the state of the art in the study of Chinese politics.