Emotions in the Field: The Psychology and Anthropology of Fieldwork Experience

Emotions-in-the-Field-James-DaviesAs emotion is often linked with irrationality, it’s no surprise researchers tend to underreport the emotions they experience in the field.

Emotions in the Field explores the idea that emotion is not antithetical to thought or reason, but is instead an untapped source of insight that can complement more traditional methods of anthropological research.


“At last, anthropology is opening up and becoming more honest and frank about the experience of doing the job….. students may feel anxious in writing about their emotions in the field, as emotion (over reason) has long been associated with irrationality and a lack of objectivity. This volume goes a long way towards countering such stagnant prejudices”.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“A powerful affirmation of the humanity of the field encounter in all its ambivalence, and a timely call for social scientists to harness the rich potential of a people-centered research enterprise.”
Professor João Biehl, Princeton University

“This book is a welcome rediscovery of the importance of emotions as key social and political facts. The perception that emotions are not after-effects but are themselves constitutive of practice is a timely reminder and insight.
Professor Paul Rabinow, University of California, Berkeley

“Emotions in the Field is an important, generative contribution to our understanding of the emotional and intellectual dimensions of ethnographic research and the anthropological enterprise more generally…. Narrations like this get to the ways in which fieldwork proceeds through labyrinths of decentering moments, hesitations, insights, doubts, anxieties, sensations, ritual formations, and oscillations of emotion and knowledge…. The volume as a whole speaks richly to these matters, in ways that are not pat or conventional, and furthers understanding of them in significant and timely ways. It should be required reading for budding ethnographers on the verge of essaying their first forays into “the field.”
Ethos – Professor Robert Desjarlais.

“This book will provoke discussion of fieldwork from a new perspective, and hopefully spark new contributions to the literature. It will be of most use to those concerned with the linkages between ethnographic methodology and the analyses that anthropologists produce, as well as to those entering the field or newly returned. I have already recommended it to a number of graduate students as a significant resource in predicting, understanding and analysing fieldwork practice.”
Anthropological Forum

“Emotions in the Field is an excellent contribution to discussions of fieldwork methodology in general, and the role of emotions in ethnographic research in particular….[it] provides an efficient anti-dote to most textbooks on ‘qualitative methods’ and their implicit rationalist epistemologies and positivist orientations. Every fieldworker could get inspiration from reading it, and post-graduate courses in ethnographic methods could benefit from its different contributions”.
Ethnos — Dr Jakob Krause-Jensen

“I welcome the way in which emotions are given center stage in this volume, seen as not only worthwhile, but also as potentially important and useful in the creation of knowledge. Issues such as transference and countertransference are not usually taught in methods classes, leaving neophyte fieldworkers sometimes holding incomprehensible and possibly upsetting and disturbing feelings. Thus, sociologists should take note of the book and its message”
Contemporary Sociology

“Thought-provoking, stimulating and at times moving, this volume will be a stimulating tonic for jaded researchers, while its personal insights into fieldwork’s daily realities render it a thoughtful volume for those about to embark on field research.
Qualitative Research