Leaving the field

Methodological insights from ethnographic exits

Robin James Smith
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Sara Delamont
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This book is concerned with a central, yet overlooked, aspect of ethnographic fieldwork: leaving the field. Despite some useful treatments being available, this collection provides a current and critical sustained engagement with the practices, problems and possibilities of leaving the field. The collection generates methodological insights through the examination of a range of exits from a variety of contexts. The tales from leaving the field cover planned ‘good’ exits; abrupt and unwelcome exits where the researcher is forced to leave the field or, indeed, the field leaves them; ‘bad’ exits with a lingering legacy; partial exits and returns; and cases where the research, the researcher and the field are entangled to the extent where leaving becomes impossible. The chapters – written by an international and interdisciplinary group of fieldworkers, at different stages of their careers – are not intended to reduce leaving the field to a series of recommendations or programmatic steps but, instead, report from ethnographic exits in order to critically investigate, trouble and even subvert established notions of field relations, exit strategies and even ‘the field’ itself.

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