Reversing the ethnographer's lens: A reflection on the challenges and possibilities of doing 'off-shore' field research as a group

Supplementary Files



In this article I draw on the experiences of an ethnographic field trip to Kerala, South India, undertaken by myself and seven postgraduate students in January 2012. I will address questions arising from our perceived group identity in India, including that of our representation as a group of New Zealanders (from varied cultural backgrounds); our own sense of groupness; our presence and practice as a group of researchers in the field; and the pros and cons of travelling as a group. While each student was exploring an independent dance research topic and while each came from very different backgrounds, we were nevertheless travelling as an organised group and were therefore perceived as culturally homologous. Finally, I address the educational efficacy of doing field work as a group in general, its impact on the cohort being researched, and the learning outcomes for students. I suggest that this kind of trans-locational or situated learning experience can lead to heightened reflexivity and allow greater insight both for the students themselves and the culture they are researching.

@ The University of Waikato