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Winding Down, Wrapping Up

Xiamen: field study wrap-up

The field study is completed and the team has headed its separate ways. There are a few days rest before the next study starts and for me at least its an opportunity to explore Fujian Province.

Jumping from the context of one in-depth field study to another can feel like a series of unreal experiences. As one of the team so succinctly put it “It’s like a holiday romance without the romance, and without the holiday”. A unique and mostly positive experience, but you know it’s not going to last. We are drawn together by shared goals, arrive in a foreign destination, put our heads down and get on with it. The work allows us to confront, explore and document experiences that are then discussed during analysis sessions, over restaurant meals, walks through neighbourhoods, and evenings spent sipping drinks on the verandah. We revel in documenting the minutiae of the mundane but in many ways don’t need to deal with the mundane ourselves. Beds are made in our absence, dirty laundry disappears to re-appear fresh and typically ironed, tables come set with food and drinks, and is cleared without our assistance. Does being removed from these everyday experiences hinder or support understanding the live’s of our study participants?

And yet it’s not strictly true that we are removed from it all – we carry tools that allow us to converse with home – conversations about laundry, building contractors and hospital appointments. If it were a holiday the romance would be to talk regular stuff with loved one’s back home.