Red Stamps and Gold Stars

Fieldwork Dilemmas in Upland Socialist Asia

Sarah Turner

  • Published: 2014
  • Pages: 320 pp.
  • illustrated
  • Series number: 52
Available from NIAS Press in Europe only

Reflects on the realities of doing fieldwork in marginal areas.

Focuses on China, Vietnam and Laos but has global applicability.

Written by experienced fieldworkers for fieldworkers.

With socialist countries in Asia reopening their borders to overseas scholars in the last few decades, more and more social scientists are embarking on fieldwork in China, Vietnam and Laos. Red Stamps and Gold Stars brings together all the messiness, compromise, and ethical dilemmas that underscore fieldwork in upland socialist Asia and elsewhere. These challenges can range from how to gain research access to politically sensitive border regions, to helping informants-turned-friends access appropriate health care, to reflections on how to best represent ethnic minority voices. Written by human geographers and social anthropologists actively engaged in research with ethnic minorities in upland socialist Asia, these unique contributions will advance the study of the practice of international fieldwork.

author image not supplied

Sarah Turner is an associate professor in the Department of Geography, McGill University. She has conducted fieldwork in urban Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, and since 1998 with upland ethnic-minority groups in rural northern Vietnam and southwest China.

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by Ian G. Baird
From journal: Mountain Research and Development
Mountain Research and Development

‘The First book of its kind and a welcome addition to the literature on qualitative research methods. (…) While the individual chapters all represent useful contributions in themselves, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts. [Red Stamps and Gold Stars] should become required reading for anyone planning to conduct ethnographic research in this part of the world.’

Ian G. Baird, University of Wisconsin Madison.

See the full text of this review here.

by Nathan Badenoch - CSEAS
From journal:
Southeast Asian Studies Vol 5. No. 1 of 2016

"This book brings honest, critical, and nuanced perspectives to the project of reflexive thinking on the processes and implications of doing ethnography.

Because the state is so ubiquitous in Vietnam, China, and Laos, this book provides multiple windows on how complex, subtle, yet powerful that state presence is.

"This book brings honest, critical, and nuanced perspectives to the project of reflexive thinking on the processes and implications of doing ethnography.

Because the state is so ubiquitous in Vietnam, China, and Laos, this book provides multiple windows on how complex, subtle, yet powerful that state presence is.

The authors’ narratives of their relationships with officials, informants, assistants, community leaders, with whom they have often developed intimate and emotional ties, capture the special complexities of their positionality.

These stories will be extremely helpful for young researchers trying to prepare for the unpreparable, as well as experienced fieldworkers who face similar administrative, emotional, and ethical dilemmas in their ethnographic lives."

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