My name is Melanie and I feel it’s about time to share with you and discuss some of my everyday experiences of doing fieldwork in South Africa: Funny, disturbing, somehow noteworthy incidences or thoughts which give a bit of an insight into what I’m doing here. My observations should be seen as complementary to the perfectly drafted, smooth and straightforward appearance of fieldwork in academic publications which usually don’t account for the small everyday stuff that leaves the researcher in excitement, awe, consternation or sometimes even anger. A quick note: Doing fieldwork doesn’t mean I’m into agriculture (as I was questioned by a customs officer at the airport once who found this expression very confusing) – I’m a sociologist, and an anthropologist in the making.
In January 2013 I started my PhD project, being based at the University of Constance, a small university beautifully located at the Lake Constance in the very south of Germany which chances are likely you’ve never heard of. In my project I am taking a look at counselling services for women who have experienced domestic violence, focussing on urban areas in South Africa. Believe me, I have already told this line about a thousand times over and as it turns out, it makes for a pretty good mood killer at any social gathering. Usually, I’d receive looks full of compassion which then are followed by some reassuring words pointing out the overall relevance of projects like mine to combat violence against women and to make the world a better place. Well, this is quite some expectation here which I can only fail to live up to, but which won’t keep me from at least trying. And despite the admittedly rather depressing subject I am dealing with, I actually enjoy doing fieldwork because it means meeting interesting, passionate and inspiring people from very different professional areas. Sometimes doing fieldwork means taking a look through the keyhole, other times it means getting the chance to become a part of other people’s’ reality – a reality which in some aspects might differ a lot from mine but at the same time might be astonishingly similar in others.
This should give you a small idea of what this blog is about. If you like to, please discuss, comment, question, add, criticize, whatever you feel like, it’s appreciated. But please don’t leave any spam comments about penis enlargement pills or whatsoever. That’s disgusting.
For more information regarding the name of this wonderful blog, please check out the first post. Enjoy.