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Being “proficient” and “competent” in ethnographic fieldwork
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0188-4074
2019 (English)In: Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Research / [ed] R. Gibb, A. Tremlett, J. D. Iglesias, Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2019Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The acquisition of ‘proficiency’ is often assumed to solve a variety of problems when conducting ethnographic fieldwork in a second language. Based on my experience of doing fieldwork while ‘proficient’ in Russian, this chapter highlights the issues raised by ‘fluency’, which complicate and deepen challenges common to ethnographic fieldwork in general. Firstly, I consider how I was ‘enlanguaged’ by new contexts and activities, espe- cially in learning new cultural norms. Secondly, I examine the performative aspects of conducting fieldwork in a foreign language, such as the pressure to ‘pass for a native’ and the emergence of a ‘field identity’. Finally, I reflect on how being ‘fluent’ impacts on issues of power, hierarchy and inequality in local Russian contexts. This chapter demonstrates how the emotional and ethical challenges of conducting ethnographic research in a foreign language do not end with ‘fluency’ and encourages those doing fieldwork to consider what it means to be an effective ‘intercultural speaker’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2019.
Series
Researching multilingually
Keywords [en]
Language Acquisition Multilingualism Psycholinguistics Sociolinguistics Anthropology Bilingualism
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sociology; Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-396614ISBN: 9781788925914 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-396614DiVA, id: diva2:1368505
Available from: 2019-11-07 Created: 2019-11-07 Last updated: 2019-11-07

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