Writing Fieldwork

Welcome to the website for Writing Fieldwork, a two-day symposium on fieldwork, its history, and the place of writing and texts within it, hosted by the Program in History of Science at Princeton University on April 24th and 25th, 2015.

Check out the presenters’ abstracts, our featured keynote speaker, and our library of fieldwork. During the conference, an ethnographer was also hired to take notes and create a participatory ethnography of the conference itself: read the essay here.

Writing Fieldwork:
Call for Papers

Fieldwork and the field sciences have long been rich subjects for historical and reflexive scholarship. Academics have devoted considerable attention to theories of fieldwork as well as its practices, including the expedition, scientific collection, field measurement, and ethnographic observation. While we implicitly rely on field notes and travel narratives as archival and critical sources, attention to the act of writing itself is relegated to the background. In this symposium, we critically examine the histories and practices of fieldwork and scientific travel, especially those that take up writing and texts as sources, archives, or central preoccupations.

‘Texts’ need not refer only to written documents; the term may also include still and moving images, oral histories, art objects, or any other products of scientific fieldwork. Likewise, ‘fieldwork’ can include field sciences avant la lettre, scientific travel, geographic exploration, and much else besides. Scholars from all disciplines are welcome, including but hardly limited to literary studies, history, art history, anthropology, sociology, biology and other social, natural, and physical sciences. Presentist or interdisciplinary perspectives are especially encouraged.

The organizers of Writing Fieldwork wish to extend our thanks to our generous sponsors: the Program in History of Science; the Graduate School; IHUM (Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities); the Humanities Council; the Center for Collaborative History; and the Department of English.