Navigating the Field

Exploring Gendered Dimensions of Fieldwork

  • Meenakshi Nair Ambujam Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
Keywords: fieldwork, gender, sexualized harassment, ethnographic fixations


This essay seeks to explore the complexities inherent in fieldwork as a method. Drawing attention to its gendered dimension, I focus on the vulnerabilities researchers face – most notably sexualized harassment – that do not always feature in the discussion of fieldwork as a method. I argue that the ethnographic standards we ascribe to, often reify particular notions of good fieldwork – which obliterate the risks and unpleasant experiences researchers encounter. This is not to suggest that all fieldworkers experience vulnerabilities or are placed in positions of distress. As Kloß (2016) puts it, fieldwork is an exceptionally valuable methodology that allows us to learn and unlearn. That being said, there is an imminent need to unpack fieldwork and look at it from a non-male perspective. I situate the essay in this space, where I do not necessarily explore the contents of my research in particular, but shed light on the layered nature of fieldwork.

Author Biography

Meenakshi Nair Ambujam, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Meenakshi Nair Ambujam is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Her research was supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Dissertation Fieldwork Grant.

How to Cite
Nair Ambujam, Meenakshi. 2021. “Navigating the Field: Exploring Gendered Dimensions of Fieldwork”. TSANTSA – Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association 26 (June):186-94.