Doing Fieldwork in China

edited by Maria Heimer & Stig Thogersen

  • Published:
  • Pages: 334 pp.
  • Series number: 1
Available from NIAS Press worldwide except North America

Doing fieldwork inside the PRC is an eye-opening but sometimes also deeply frustrating experience. Fieldwork-based studies form the foundation for our understanding of Chinese politics and society, but there are few descriptions of how people actually do their fieldwork, and of the problems they encounter. Here, experienced scholars advise on good fieldwork practices and discuss more general theoretical points.

Doing fieldwork inside the PRC is an eye-opening but sometimes also deeply frustrating experience. Fieldwork-based studies form the foundation for our understanding of Chinese politics and society, but there are conspicuously few detailed descriptions in the China literature of how people actually do their fieldwork, and of the problems they encounter. This lack of public methodological debate not only undermines academic standards of openness: it also stalls constructive discussion on coping strategies to shared problems, and it leaves graduate students going to the field for the first time with a feeling of being the only ones to encounter difficulties.

In this volume scholars from around the world reflect on their own fieldwork practice in order to give practical advice and discuss more general theoretical points. The contributors come from a wide range of disciplines such as political science, anthropology, economics, media studies, history, cultural geography and sinology. The book also contains an extensive bibliography.


This work is of relevance to post graduate students from the social sciences and humanities who plan to do fieldwork in China; to experienced scholars who are new to the China field; and to experienced China scholars with an interest in methodological issues.

by Andreas Fulda
From journal:
International Quaterly for Asian Studies, November 2010, 3-4/10

"Doing Fieldwork in China … is essential reading for anyone conducting research on contemporary China."

"Doing Fieldwork in China … is essential reading for anyone conducting research on contemporary China."

by Susan D. Blum
From journal:
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 16, Issue 3, Sept. 2010

"… offers a frank look at fieldwork.

… there was wisdom and insight, warning and pragmatic solution in every chapter.

In sum, this book would be extremely helpful for people setting out to engage in fieldwork in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or other settings where governments control movement of social scientists.

"… offers a frank look at fieldwork.

… there was wisdom and insight, warning and pragmatic solution in every chapter.

In sum, this book would be extremely helpful for people setting out to engage in fieldwork in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or other settings where governments control movement of social scientists.

… helpful hints, reassuring stories, and even the reminder that each field setting requires certain kinds of problem-solving…"

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