Doing Fieldwork: Lunchtimes informal sessions 2023-24

Convenors: Dr. Laura Trajber Waisbich (LAC/BSP) & Dr. Thiruni Kelegama (CSASP)

Fieldwork is an essential part of the kind of research we do in Area Studies. Yet, there are few opportunities for the academic community to exchange on the many issues that involve “going to the field”, from the more basic questions of planning and organising your thoughts and data, to the ethical dilemmas we might encounter on the ground, or even some rather profound questions about how fieldwork shapes and re-shapes our research goals and objectives, and even our identity as researchers.

After a successful first edition last academic year, we are hosting four sessions on Doing Fieldwork once more this academic year (two in Michaelmas, one in Hilary, and one in Trinity). Each session will have a main umbrella theme and will rely on the initial inputs from 2 short presentations (8 min. max), followed by an interactive debate between all the participants. Our hope is to have one member of Academic Staff and one MPhil or DPhil student presenting their first-hand experiences and/or ongoing reflections (but also their learnings, doubts, and anxieties) in each session.

The Doing Fieldwork informal lunchtime series is designed for the OSGA-wide academic community as a safe-space to exchange on a range of issues related to fieldworking: from planning, being in the field, and its aftermath; to the conceptual, practical, and ethical dilemmas entailed by different kinds of fieldwork activities. The series is conceived as an open, inclusive, and supportive space to  enable  OSGA  researchers  at  different  stages  of  their  journey  as  fieldworkers to  exchange ideas, share and learn from each other on how to navigate the many layers of being in the field and to make the best use of this experience in their different research outputs.

We welcome current students to join as speakers and share their own fieldwork experiences during sessions 2, 3 and 4. Please drop us a message ( or, if you wish to volunteer for one of these sessions.

Sessions take place on Fridays (dates provided below) either at OSGA’s (11 Bevington Road) or St. Antony’s College (exact venue for each session to be confirmed), between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Feel free to bring your own lunch. 




Michaelmas 2023


Session 1 – Doing Fieldwork: an introduction 

Week 4 - November 3, 12.30-13.30 – 11 Bevington Road (First Floor Seminar Room)

-  Introduction to the Series: Dr Laura Trajber Waisbich & Dr Thiruni Kelegama

-  Multiple ways to do fieldwork: a brief overview of field-based data collection strategies


Session 2 – Ethics and Positionality 

Week 7 - November 10, 12.30-13.30 – St. Antony’s College, Syndicate Room

-  Prof Rebekah Lee, African Studies   -  MPhil/DPhil students to be confirmed


Hilary 2024


Session 3 – Plan vs. Reality

Week 4, February 9, 12.30-13.30 - St. Antony's College, Dahrendorf 

-  Dr Chigusa Yamaura, Japanese and Chinese Studies -  MPhil/DPhil students to be confirmed


Trinity 2024


Session 4 – After Fieldwork: back to the office 

Week 3, May 10, 12.30-13.30 - venue to be confirmed

-  Dr Daniel McDonald, Latin American Centre

-  Dr Nicolette Makovicky, Russian and East European Studies

-  Prof Yaacov Yadgar, Middle East Studies