American Geographical Society

The Nietschmann Syllabus: A Vision of the Field Author(s): Bernard Q. Nietschmann Source: Geographical Review, Vol. 91, No. 1/2, Doing Fieldwork (Jan. - Apr., 2001), pp. 175184 Published by: American Geographical Society Stable URL: Accessed: 21/01/2010 01:12
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Caribbean Edge. increasing in As number or building in forcefulness. matter-of-factly. who directedgroup readings of a nearly sacredpolitical writ. and. parts of his Field Methods or Field Researchseminars at Berkeley. he was. Barney and. the precepts evolved. taught him. commitmentsoffieldwork. and with those came a broad range of responsibilities. Guatemala. whether in CentralAmerica.including students who never had the chance to take a Nietschmann course. thanks are owed FrancisSmith. do not halt with completion of a dissertation or article manuscript. at the age of fifty-eight.But they are also polemics of thefirst order. when and however he could be. he came down stronglyfor the unique rights of indigenous peoples. especially.beforethat. He died of cancer in 2000. each of whom provided useful material. the people he workedwith were always implicitly his people.Along thoselines. Nietschmann lackedfaith in the acts of many a field-worker in the social or environmental sciences. his writings. and the Maya with the Maya who residein what the Atlas. the last of which was producedcollaboratively nation-states would call southern Mexico.Pioneering intellectual-propertyarguments.and be ethical. Thom Eley.and confrontational.For the most part.and more:indigenousand traditionalpeoples around many parts of the world who both many an author in this collection makes clear.He believedin what geographerscan do.and always therewas good work at hand. STARRS. the Torres Straits. The public disputes this led to in Berkeleyand elsewherewere-preThe dictably-difficult. Seth Macinko."and "TheBeverlyHills Geographer" graduate students of many a department. His books-Between Land and Water. Barney taught and practiced. Stan Stevens.""AMoral Geography: ResearchConduct and ConductingRewere often passedfrom hand to hand by the search. -PAUL F. unpleasant. The materials that follow are all Barney's work. as he said. handouts on "Mickey's GoldenRulesfor the Field. January-April 2001 ."with its near echo of the colonial. Barney thefield was. even against the state. He found quite risible the practice of some of his colleagues. NIETSCHMANN Editor's Note: Few geographershave attained legend as did Barney Nietschmann. and Belize-are an supportersof inspirationto many. or in his work as a political geographer For where peoples everywhere. he was a distinctiveforce at the Universityof Michigan. Angelina Nietschmann. what is reproducedbelow is from 1995. and his disapprovalput him decisively at odds with many on the cultural Mexico.THE NIETSCHMANN SYLLABUS: VISION OF THE FIELD A BERNARDQ. but he left behind his students. From the late 1970s to 1999 he taught and inspireda generation offield geographersat the University of California. The reach of these broadsidesfor an ethical and efficacious field practice would in time span the Berkeley campus and later spread across much of academic geography.but the underlyingprinciples remained the same: Respectthosewith whomyou work. among Fourth World a geographerworks. EDITOR Copyright ? 2001by the AmericanGeographical Societyof NewYork The Geographical Review 91 (1-2): 175-184. That said. their defender and their champion. hisfamily. and he believed in an obligation to do what you can. Although he would be loath to use the word "his. In thefield or at home he savored deep relationships. when the most complete set of papers was available.

Calif. and the laboratoryto go somewhere--nearor far-to obtain firsthandinformation from firsthandinvestigations. learn how to design and fund a researchproject.Both beginning and advanced students are encouragedto take the seminar.To do this requiresexperiencewith researchmethods. PracticalResearch: Leedy. Seminarparticipantswill do weeklyreadingsand discussions. sometimes.and there will be frequent assignments and presentations. and.5thed.A professionalacademic is supposed to have the training and experito ence to be ableto do originalresearch. and considerableskills. theories. TUESDAYS.OF BERKELEY UNIVERSITY CALIFORNIA.use a varietyof researchmethods and skills duringthe project.M. MR. NewYork: Macmillan.the library.photograph. the public. Introductionto Field Research August 29 GeographicField Research II.Silverman.and be able to communicateand disseminatethe resultsto a wide range of people. 1987. Locke. Seminar participantswill examine and use a varietyof researchmethods. 1993.Field researchmeans leaving the university.W. Newbury SCHEDULE OF SEMINAR TOPICS BY WEEK I. The Geography204 seminar helps preparebeginning and advancedgraduate students for field research.and map. NIETSCHMANN 575 McCONEHALL FALLSEMESTER 1995 GEOGRAPHY 204 GEOGRAPHIC RESEARCH METHODS AND THEORIES One of the major tasks of a graduateschool is to train students to be professional academics.and S.and learn how to presentand publish research. producenew knowledge.D.W. Proposals Park. and ethics.students. Spirduso. PlanningandDesign. equipment.F. J. skills.:SagePublications.and money. DEPARTMENT GEOGRAPHY OF 1:30-4:30P.and equipment to survey.interview.L.. Textbooks: P. GeographicField Methods and Skills September 5 GeographicalResearchTheories and Methods 12 GeographicSurveys 19 GeographicResearch 26 Photographyin the Field . A professionalacademic should be able to design and fund a research project. ThatWork.and to be ableto communicate that new knowledge to other academics.

Now that you'veseen the field.Seminars. 2. You can usually identifythis individualas the one who is laughingthe loudest. Journals. Nothing else will work anyway. Priorto leavingfor the field.foolishly.etc. list of materials. The only person who could possibly do anythingfor you is the guy who reallyruns the fieldwork-and he's too busy.Rememberthat life is a random process anyway. 4. Presentingand PublishingResearch November 28 Collaboration.Alwaysrepeateverythingat leastthreetimes. When. In order to improvise your new plan of action. Books 5 WritingResearch: MICKEY'S GOLDEN RULES FOR THE FIELD 1.and it's foolish to try to improve on the odds.Whateverhe/she says-do it-even if it doesn't seem right. it obviouslywon't work anyway. Immediatelyupon arrivingat the field.but it talking makesyou feel better. 5 was so confused that he didn't do anything. 3. rememberthat repeated"yesses" the and enthusiastichead nodding mean that you are totallyconfusing guyyou're to. throw awayitem No. Don't worry about it when none of your resultsare significant. . you must now find out who reallyruns the fieldwork.THE NIETSCHMANN SYLLABUS 177 October Video and Computersin the Field 3 Field Mapping 10 17 Mapping 24 Mapping 31 ResearchEthics:Who Owns the Research? III.Missing data are alwayseasierto deal with than fouled-up decideto breakRuleNo. hope the guy in No. When you come back to the field. It doesn'thelp any. 1 above. 5. Designing and Fundinga ResearchProject November 7 Designing a ResearchProject 14 Why and How ResearchIs Funded 21 Proposal Writing IV. 4. 7. 6. Never ask anybodyto do anythingfor you.This is neversomeone with a Ph.Meetings TalkingResearch: December and Professional SeminarPapers.D. carefullydrawup a plot plan.

. Collecting Information * Most informationdoesn't have a librarycall number * Libraries and archives * "Theliterature" (inside & outside geography) * Privatecollections *Computer searches * Computerbulletin boards * Newspaperfiles * Subscribeto a local newspaper * Telephone *Organizations * Write. CollectingVisual Information * Geographyis the most visual of the sciences:Use this * Nongeographersexpect geographersto explain how and why things are as they arein differentplaces *Maps * Air photos * Satelliteimagery:Landsat. g.UCB) * Investigatewhat kinds and types of equipmentyou may need III. fax people who might help * People in area * Academics * Other grad studentsworking on topic * Potentialfunding sources * Find out about researchrequirements proposed study areaor country in * Find out about researchrequirementsat Berkeley(Committee for Protection of Human Subjects. call. libraries) * Privatephoto collections * Overseassources and collections .A SCRIPT FOR FIELD RESEARCH I.museums. Smithsonian. The ResearchTopic * The firststep is to sit down and evaluateyour interestsand abilities * General interest -> concept -> preliminary thesis / topic / hypothesis * Preliminaryobjectives II.SPOT * Photo collections (e.

what organization or group would be good to sponsor the research * Communicate with academics and students in local colleges and universities and arrange a formal or informal relationship (visiting scholar. fax. people headsinto streamof immigrants summerwhenschoolis out a veritable Every the OregonTrailwas neverso heavilypopulatedas are Indian country. otherstaketips on the stockmarket..1988[1969] * We are in the last of the Imposed Research Era * How will you get permission to do research? * How will you be invited to do the research? * Find out what groups. collaboration) * Discuss general research objectives and how research results will be used.McNamaracreatedthe TFXand the Edsel. organizations. e-mail. Funding * Write letters of inquiry to potential funding organizations briefly describing your research and asking for application materials * A good proposal is a major project and takes time and several drafts * A yearlong project might require a $20. fax. in history.andflockto the reservations.. Indeed.. visit. * Write a distinct proposal to each organization * Some research can be done without funding * Some research should be done without funding * Who are the funders and funding organization? * Much. call. find out more * Orient the potential project so that it may be of interest to both local people and organizations as well as academia * Write. Route66 andHighway18in thesummertime. visit people in the local area and discuss the preliminary research topic . ask if this would be of interest.000-$30. it is said. Somepeople have bad horoscopes. and.But Indians have been cursedabove all other Indianshaveanthropologists. and academics are doing in the possible research area * Write. Churches possessthe real world. Find out what problems might occur due to the research. if so. which works out to $1. Getting Invited Into each life. research counterpart. if responding someprimevalfertilityrite.000 per page with the first two pages worth 50 percent if funded.Fromeveryrockand crannyin the to as Eastthey emerge. call. much more on this later .000 budget.THE NIETSCHMANN SYLLABUS 179 IV. some rain mustfall. local$2. * Ask for letters supporting you and your research V. Design research so ethical problems are not created or can be avoided. -Vine Deloria Jr.

. or to academics in the country? 2. Who Are the People? * Are the people you may do field research with/to/on to be identified as informants or peasants or class or members of an ethnic group. What will be your role and relationship in the community and within the region? 3. Is your proposed research of interest and use to the local shouldlookat what thepractitioners gistssay -Clifford Geertz. or .. contact lenses * Permits (USDA. and class? VIII. How will you treat change and variation? 8.. etc.. Language training: Find someone to help you with daily language study. you should look in thefirst or not instance at its theories itsfindings. aboutit. Collection of information: Gather information yourself? Work with people in the community? 7. culture change.) VII. Will you be working with people you consider to be informants or research colleagues? 5. Information methods interviews: formal. culture persistence.1993 1. Getting Prepared * Language training * Physical conditioning * Inoculations and special medicines * Extra glasses. 6. What skills do you have that will be useful in a community or region? 4. ? * What do they call themselves? * What do they call their place? * What are your concepts of society. Research Methods If you want to understandwhat a scienceis.. identity. informal "participant observation": What is that???Examples. questionnaires surveys walkabouts personal biographies community biographies regional biographies . culture.180 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW VI. certainly at whatits apolonot and do.

in the halls of Western imperialpower and tell the storyof what they have seen. we should conduct research and writing with the highest ethical as well as academic standards.they will be rewarded. Journalists are to ask permission to quote and to take and print photographs. Muecke. And then the anthropologists mustspeak. shiftsand changesaccording the way in which the analyticgaze is directed. . They are to protect their sources and to respect confidentiality. They are supposed to get confirmation from more than one source. 1984 Stephen A Moral Geography: Research Conduct and Conducting Research Consider that journalism has a code of ethics but geography does not. -Krim Benterrak. Photojournalists must get signed permissions from people who may appear in published photographs. MargaretMead'sart and virtuewas in her text. Standards of research conduct in geography are personal ones. Why is this so? As members of a profession." waitingto revealtheirtruthsthrough anthropologist's the The impassive questioning. So what theysayaboutthe Othersmustbe relevantto theirown society.THE NIETSCHMANN SYLLABUS 181 environmental histories photography (more on this later) air and satellite photos (more on this later) mapping (more on this later) map named places land use types of environments vegetation transects soil samples daily information gathering sampling time and spatial limits to study IX. concepts. and proposal as you begin to learn more about the topic * New knowledge comes from reevaluation X.whateverthat is.a utopicconstruction afuof tureWestern society.but withoutbasinghis argumenton a transcendent realityof Samoansociety.and PaddyRoe. If what they say pleases. Reevaluation and Analysis of Research * Don't get locked into a preliminary research angle * You will need to reevaluate your original assumptions. to society. Geography requires nothing similar of geographers. Research Obligations and Ethics Neither of theseanthropologists [DerekFreemanor MargaretMead] is Societiesare notfixed in atemporal statesof objectivity "right.DerekFreemancan rereadher text if he wishes.almost confess.

"TheAmericansbelieve that white sugar will cause brain damage"). 20. Permissionis to be obtainedto quote people and to publish photographsof people. Entirepeoples should not be characterized what you found out by from a few people (e. 6. it might be. 18. Researchimplies ethical choices. What do we need to consider in thinking about interventionist research? 11.. Should one write as an expert on an activitywithout being physicallycapablein the activity? 3. Don'tblameyour research shortcomingson the peopleyou worked with or the situation you workedin. 14. Who should you give your researchresultsto? 8. Understanding the values of a people with whom one studies should be a preconditionfor any fieldwork.g. and if it were so. Is there such a thing as scientificmalpractice? 9. Researchis reciprocal:People from local communities and universitiesshouldbe invitedto participate be recognizedas much and as possible in the visitor'sresearch.182 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW Here are some first questions and statements: 1.That'slogic.." . told Alice:"Ifit was so. How will your researchaffectthe host community. 7. "American summers are foggy and cold"). 19. Entireplacesshould not be characterized whatyou think about by one place (e. What do you want to accomplishwith your research? 15. Justbecause someone tells you something does not in itself give you the right to write about it. Imperialismin the name of science is imperialism. Should you invite or impose yourself to do field research? 4. Confidentiality and protection of sources are to be respected. it ain't.or individuals or groups within the community or country? 16. 13. 17. There is no neutral way in science. but as it isn't. Who owns the information?(intellectualproperty?) 2. 10. and researchwith local peoples on developmentand conservation likelywill producemanydifficult ethical problems.g. Is it necessaryto balancethe imposed concerns of academiawith the people'sconcerns with whom you work? 5. it Tweedledee would be. 12.

000 non-state nations. "informant's" would seem counterproductive (if not arrogant. theyare the explained."Ethnoscience" really translatesas a lesser version of "real" science. and scholarship(discipline building).or East Timor use the same concepts.Geographyis not done among the rich and famous but on the poor and unknown. geography a productand advocateof the state. Ivorytowerbuilding.Research done on "informants" who can'tsay no.and resourcesas do geographersfrom Israel. Try moving into BeverlyHills to do a community study of American Caucasianethnicity and household production strategies based upon interviewingkey informants and door-to-door questionnaires.and so on (Witherspoon). Would a geographerfrom and trained in Palestine. beliefs." opinions.and identity. informant responses.color." 3. myths.West Papua.THE NIETSCHMANN SYLLABUS 183 XI.or to benefit the people studied. recall defective interpretations."Ethnogeography" is redundant. theories. BeverlyHills geographer. Who studies and who gets studied reflectspower. The world outside the universityis treatedas the placewhere theories and explanationsmanufacturedin the universitycan be tested and verified.or tory." tory" or the "field.or racist)to reducethe world diversityof knowlfor edge to but "data" one system of knowledge.Kurdistan. Researchis done "with" those of approximately same the social or economic status as the views. Most researchis not about the world outside the university. and more than 6.Burma." "subjects.The world outside the universityis seen as being a "livinglaboraand inhabited by "actors. The BeverlyHills Geographer Research oftendone to advancea theory (theorybuildis is economics. Khalistan.The earthhas two mappings for much of the same space:192 mostly non-nation-states. Thewrongend of the telescope. 4." "informants.Our explanationsand theories areas culturallyembeddedas arethose in other societies.or . to solve social justice problems. cognition.Kawthoolei.status.class.and obtaining and managinginformationis the basisof the new informationeconomy. A doublestandardof accountability. Academicsjudge the reliabilityof an 6. Weare the explainers. and methods about identity. provincial. 2. Reing). a career (careerbuilding). Indonesia?Most academic researchreaffirmsthe legitimacy of the states that in turn fund and support academia. Researchis not done on people who can call the cops. ethnoscience. When the theoriesof non-Western peoples about how and why the worldandsocietyoperateastheydo contradict with our own theories. search is rarely done to further understanding.but the people studied have no forum to judge the accuracyof the researcher's study.Turkey. Academic is 5.In a time when diversityin biological and culturalsystems is understoodto be beneficial. sharply their theories and explanationsare reducedto "data. terriIndia.

Reading Country: K. 25 .and the UnitedStates.Indianapolis. P. B. Compiled by the Mayapeople of southern Belize. and the Society for the Preservation Education of and Research.. ed.patients. Benterrak. 4.Does an academic own knowledgeprovided by people and communities who receiveno benefits. Lanham.and law havebasic ethical stanJournalism. 1984. Maya Atlas: The Struggleto Preserve Maya Land in Southern Belize. TheCentral Concepts ofNavajoWorld Press. BetweenLand and Water:The Subsistence Ecologyof the MiskitoIndians.W. Australia: FremantleArts CentrePress.berkeley.:Merrill. 2. 1993.and clients. Caribbean Edge:The Comingof Modern Timesto IsolatedPeopleand Wildlife.New York:SeminarPress. W. Q. Deloria. Silverman. London:FontanaBooks.2000. Sanders.with the assistanceof the Indian LawResource Center. The UnknownWar:The MiskitoNation. Md. 1975a. and 4th Nietschmann. NietschmannMemorial. 1997. NavajoKinshipand Marriage. Copiesof reports.N.geographyhas no code of researchethics. View. and Ann Arbor:Universityof MichiganPress. Nicaragua. ResearchResults 1. and no credit?Claiming someone else's knowledge as one's own is called plagiarismif it is from a book. Similarto most academicdisciplines. of Research: Leedy. and researchif it is from a community. Also includes a full list of publicationsand some photographs..and S. dardsto regulateprofessionalbehaviorand to protectsources. ProposalsThat Work: Guidefor Planning Dissertations GrantProposals.G. Language Art in the Navajo Universe. organizations.6th ed. maps. . Toledo Maya CulturalCouncil.184 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW counter what may be outright fabrication. BernardQ. in conjunction with the Toledo Maya CulturalCouncil and the ToledoAlcaldesAssociation. S. CusterDied for YourSins:An Indian Manifesto.:North AtlanticBooks.Calif. Ethicsandgeography.What constitutes"malpractice" in geography? medicine.Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress.:Sage. or papers. .J. Calif. 7. Upper SaddleRiver. should be given 3. Practical Planningand Design.theses. Intellectual propertyrightsand academicespionage. A Locke.UC Berkeley.Lisse. 1973. V. FURTHERREADING to and the Introduction Nomadology.Roe. Ind.R..: FreedomHouse. Geertz. books mustbe sent to communities in the study areaand to those who have helpedyou in your work. TheInterpretation Cultures. Spirduso. XII. 1997. .UC BerkeleyPublicaffairsofficepressrelease. Berkeley. 1988 [1969]. 2000. Giveseminarsand lecturesto local colleges.Muecke.GeoMap Group.C.html]. J. 1977.:Bobbs-Merrill. 1975b. F. 1989.Norman: Universityof OklahomaPress.dissertations. Often it is appropriateto ask people you'veworkedwith to read and comment on the firstdraft. L. industrialespionageif it is from a corporation. for on 8. Thousand Oaks.and drawings or sent to people and communities who helped.norprofessional standards studyingandreporting people.and groups on the resultsof the research.Netherlands: Peterde Ridder Witherspoon. Jr. 1979. EasternNicaragua.photographs. Copiesof tape recordings. [http://geography.