Re-locating the Ethnographic Field

From 'Being There' to 'Being There'

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
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When considering the ethnographic field, language use has been of continued anthropological concern. Traditional approaches to the field have associated language use with concepts such as place, territory and ethnicity and have tended to bound them within a single site. However, in conditions of increasing globalised mobility, approaches to both fieldwork and language use within the field are changing. Using existing scholarship on minority-language communities in Europe alongside original fieldwork with Somali migrants in Glasgow, this article considers the dynamics of that relationship within the contexts of single-sited, multi-sited and online fields. It finds that, for an inquiry focused on both language use and mobility, established modes of thinking about the field are a methodologically restrictive practice on 'being there'. Instead, the authors argue for rethinking the field as a 'spoken' one where, with language at the fore, emphasis is placed on 'being there'.