Teaching Fieldwork Experience: Experiment, Embodiment, Emotions

  • Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska University of Warsaw, Federal University of Santa Catarina
  • Iwona Kaliszewska


The emotional and sensual dimension of fieldwork, as well as the positionality of the researcher are often debated and considered crucial in anthropology. We assume that “good ethnography” includes sensory and bodily fieldwork experience. But how do we address these issues in teaching? How can we teach students to notice, analyse and make sense of their bodily experiences? How do we encourage the awareness of positionality? What practical steps can we take in designing suitable learning experiences that address these points?  In this paper, we share our experience of teaching adapted courses that provide students with fieldwork encounters, where the significance of embodied knowledge can be explored, and their ethnographic awareness cultivated. Basing our analysis on the undergraduate Ethnographic Lab and Ethnographic Methods courses taught at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw, we argue that it is important to put students in uncomfortable or unusual fieldwork and teaching situations, forcing them out of their comfort zone so that they experience fieldwork encounters both emotionally and bodily. Recordings of these encounters and the bodily reactions of themselves and others constitute a core part of the data to be gathered, which prevents students from focusing solely on narratives and discourses.