I didn’t think the first time I would have to apologize for not posting for a long time would come so soon, but at least I have good reasons to offer. I’m struggling with the need to define the theoretical focus for my research on Fat Acceptance; I’m having trouble in getting into the field for the research on Geocaching, and I’m running out of time – the summer break is going to be over in few weeks and I wish I can do advance these studies before my courses start.
I may have to take another methods course and I’m seriously considering one called “Advanced Research Methods in Anthropology”. I took only one course in Anthropology during my Master’s course and I feel a little ill-equipped to access informants and get insertion into a community to start my fieldwork. Maybe I know some techniques, but I just need to be reassured again and again that it’s ok to get acquainted to people if you want to get information from them to do research and write a paper. And then I find myself wondering if it’s just me or if this is a regular stage of the learning process... I will take the course, just in case.
I’m just going to shoot a list of reasons that may explain why I’m finding it hard to get into the geocaching community. If you ever had similar issues with your fieldwork, let’s talk - I’m willing to consider any counterargument seriously, because I do want to make this work.
- This is the first time I’m doing field work outside my home country and culture. I see how this can be positive because it makes me question things that would be taken for granted otherwise. However, it also poses me so many challenges! For example, I’m extremely resistant to the idea of going to parks by myself to look for geocaches because I still fear violence, even realizing that I’m safer here than I was back in my home country. Or the way I have to re-write a message ten times before posting it at the discussion forums just to be assured that I’m using the appropriate words to say what I mean.
- There’s no structured group or stable community – geocachers are disperse and extremely mobile. This is tricky... Let’s say that, for convenience, I get a group of informants who live in the same city as I do. If I want to participate in their geocaching activities, I will have to follow them all around in their trips, because the first thing a geocacher usually does is to hunt everything around her/his area. Then s/he has to travel around to keep the adventure happening. If I choose attending to geocaching events as a form of participation, I also need to move around to the meeting places and I’ll probably never meet the same group of people twice. Besides, much of the geocaching-related activities happen in the “micro-level”, in short periods of time, and in many cases, the hunts are not even previously planned.
- Geocaching may be not only “something you do”, but a lifestyle. What I’ve noticed is that unless you have a background of traveling/adventure related activities, you don’t simply start doing geocaching and keep your regular life untouched. This was one of my previous misconceptions that were broken as soon as left my first geocaching event. I thought geocaching was something to fill in the boring moments of ordinary life, something that would aggregate a little fun and fantasy to an unexciting routine. Now I tend to think of it as the anchor of, or at least as a complement to, a lifestyle. And the difficulty this re-categorization brings to my field work is: how far am I willing to change my lifestyle to take this research further? Do I need to exchange my urban weekends for a camping trip? Should I forget heels and skirts because it’s impossible to hunt for a last minute cache on them? Will I get used to carrying the GPS in my handbag everyday along with extra-batteries, flashlight, trinkets to trade, travel bugs, and camera?
That’s it for now (oh, except for the fact that Toronto seems to have one of the lowest concentration of caches per area...)!
Next post will give you a brief idea of all the things I’m thinking about while investigating the Fat Acceptance blogs.