Fieldwork reflections and research methodology

Get Complete Project Material File(s) Now! »

Chapter Four: Fieldwork reflections and research methodology


This chapter discusses my reflections as an internative fieldworker and describes the research methodology and data collection methods I used to carry out this study. The first section explains how my overlapping complex cultural and internative researcher identities contributed in cultivating reflexivity, negotiated realities, and other reflections during fieldwork. Following the first section, I explain how the theory of constructivism and a phenomenological lens provided the frame of analysis used to examine the data. The next section describes how I used purposive and snowball sampling procedures to select the dance teachers as research participants. I also explain how I applied storytelling, interviews, and participant and nonparticipant observation to collect data. This section is followed by a discussion of data analysis techniques. I also examine how I handled ethical considerations during the fieldwork. The last section examines challenges and limitations of the study, and how I addressed these research constraints.

‘Internative’ ethnographer: Unveiling autoethnographic fieldwork reflections

The field of ethnography is preoccupied with delineations between insider and outsider identities in fieldwork. The outsider-insider dichotomy assumes that, on the one hand, the insider, also referred to as native anthropologist/researcher (Gwaltney, 1976; Mascarenhas-Keyes, 1987; Nakhleh, 1979), often engages in fieldwork from an emic perspective with a subjective, informed and influential standpoint (Headland, Pike, & Harris, 1990). In this instance, “the insider is an individual who possesses intimate knowledge of the community and its members due to previous and ongoing association with that community and its members” (Labaree, 2002, p. 100). On the other hand, the outsider has been referred to as “a) bereft of the direct, intuitive sensitivity that alone makes empathetic understanding possible;
b) incapable of comprehending alien groups, statuses, cultures, and societies; and excluded in principle from gaining access to knowledge and understanding of the group” (Kauffman, 1994, pp. 179-180).
The insider is assumed to have an understanding of what Geertz (1988) has referred to as an ensemble of socio-cultural and contextual texts of a given culture and community. The insider perspective can “grasp the native’s point of view, his relations to life, to realize his [insider’s] vision of his world” (Malinowski, 1922, p. 290). Referring to the importance of insider identity in cultural heritage dance ethnography, Kibirige (2015) mentioned that native “dance practices, like other cultural heritage practices and rituals are best understood by their bearers and practitioners” (p. 1-2). Kibirige’s formulation categorises whomever does not bear knowledge of cultural heritage dances as an outsider.

Reflection on internative identity

As I was carrying out the research, I reflected deeply on identity. Hall (1996) underscored that identity is a perpetual aspect that chains and places a person into cobwebs of discourses, practices, experiences, locations, and reflections. As a researcher doing fieldwork in my own country, I considered Jones’s (1977) observation that the researcher’s own experiences, activities, thoughts, and generation of models based on fieldwork reflections should form part of the body of knowledge developed from ethnographic activities. My fieldwork reflections revealed to me that I was neither an outsider nor insider researcher, but rather an internative researcher. Different fieldwork experiences illuminated my multiple identities.
During the fieldwork, I reflected on my multiple identities emanating from my past life. I was born and raised in my home village, Mbuukiro. Growing up, home was the first axis of learning. Through children’s games, storytelling sessions, songs, lullabies, dance practices and home-based activities such as farming and fishing, I was able to access the practical and theoretical skills, knowledge and competencies of the Baganda people of central Uganda. My thinking was formed around the resources, knowledge, skills and environment around me at home and in the village, with guidance commonly offered by village and family elders and relatives.
My childhood thinking was continually expanding. At the age of four, I took classes in the catechism. Through these classes, I was oriented to Western Catholic religious dogmas. My sociocultural and spiritual world broadened. I learned that there was a supreme being – katonda (God) that I was answerable to as well as my elders and parents. These forms of orientation provided the childhood foundations from which my adult life and identity sprang.
Since 1989, I have been attending Western formal education at pre-tertiary and tertiary levels of education in Uganda, the U.S., and New Zealand. My experiences as a student in these formal academic settings have introduced me to new bases of practical and theoretical knowledge in different subjects in the arts and sciences. As a result of these encounters, my life has also become a playground for what Mazrui (1986) has referred to as triple heritage – religious orientation, indigenous upbringing, and Western education. This exposure has strengthened my “desire to investigate the cultural ideals of others without necessarily emulating them…” (Rowe, 2008, p. 7).
As an adult, my complex identities have been expanded by my habitation of cross-cultural environments through travel and residencies for performances and academic work.
As a result of these interfaces, my ethnorelativism (Bennett, 1993) has expanded. This has turned my professional, social and artistic life into a constellation that I refer to as my internative   identity.   Throughout   my   fieldwork   research,   I   reflected   on   how    the aforementioned multiple identities overlap. Deutsch’s (1981) observation that “researchers are multiple insiders and outsiders” (cited in Labaree, 2002, p. 101) became increasingly vivid. My internative identity made me always located somewhere (Griffith, 1998). I oscillated continuously between these positional boundaries in different social locations during the fieldwork (Labaree, 2002).
These changes in individual identity, which stemmed from my interaction with various cultural settings and experiences, have been explored in various literatures. Fanon (1968) explained that when natives of formerly colonised communities undergo Western exposure, they attain the identity of a native intellectual. Lugo (1997) argued that the complexities of nativity make evolvements in identity inevitable, explaining that individuals constantly and socially inhabit different spaces of identity, which can also qualify as nativities. These constant shifts in interaction and socialisation make the native identities unstable. Bhabha (1994) also noted that people and cultures are evolving intersections of complex social, cultural, and political forces.
While Abu-Lughod (1991) observed that researchers commonly alternate between outsider and insider identities, which he referred to as being ‘halfie’, my experience was different. My fieldwork experiences and reflections transcended this dualistic notion of ethnographic identity.

Reflexivity and internative identity

My internative identity was further illuminated when I interacted with the dance teachers who  were  the  research  participants  and  the  complex  research  environments,  which illuminated a sense of reflexivity. Reflexivity created an understanding that emerged out of interaction between me as a researcher and the situations within which I found myself –out of the questions that emerged from my response to the situations” (Williams, 1990, p.254). During the fieldwork, I did not ever operate in isolation from other individuals and communities.  The      reflexive          fieldwork        interactions     further deepened        my       sense   of internative identity. This is because reflexivity “demands both an other and some self-conscious awareness of the process of self-scrutiny” (Chriseri-Strater, 1996, p. 130). Below is an excerpt of a discussion I had with Herbert Katende Mukungu, one of the dance teachers, which reminded me of my internative identity:
“Mabingo, I am so glad to see you again after many years”, said Herbert Mukungu, one of the dance teachers who was a research participant.
“I am glad to see you too”, I responded.
“You have been abroad for many years. You left us here; we are still here.
I see some of your other contemporaries in town”, Mukungu added.
“That is so great to hear. At least, you get to see some of my longtime friends. I hope they are well”, I replied.
“Many of them are well. They are still performing with troupes. Do you even still know how to perform dances? You have been away for many years. I thought you were not going to come back. You must have learned new behaviours from the many places that you have visited and lived. Your hair is now long. You accent has also changed. You do not look like you are from Uganda”, Herbert continued.
Listening to Hebert, I realised that for a researcher, rationalising fieldwork identities is sometimes not entirely their personal choice. The process of research entailed “developing reciprocity  with  research  subjects  –  hearing,  listening,  and  equalizing  the  research relationship – doing research ‘with’ instead of ‘on’” (Pillow, 2003, p. 179). As Griffith (1998) mentioned, “different knowledges are imbedded in both the researcher’s biography and the social relations of power and privilege in which the researcher is located” (p. 363). My conversation with Herbert brought my attention to Appadurai’s (1988) question: When ethnography’s former “natives” engage in researching their native communities, what do they research back as? Or, to paraphrase Appadurai’s question, when “natives” talk back to an “internative”, what do they talk back as? Members of a culture? The conversation that I had with Herbert placed me on the outside of what he considered native space. It further deepened “an ongoing self-awareness during the research process, which aided in making visible the practice and contruction of knowledge within research in order to produce more accurate analyses of research” (Pillow, 2003, p. 178). As my nativity continued to be otherised by Herbert, I reflected on how the perceptions of the dance teachers could impact my positionality as the researcher.
The fieldwork activities became a reflexive process (Ohnuki-Tierney, 1984) through which I experienced self-reflective consciousness (Sartre, 1969) and looked at “self-in relation-to-others” (Finlay, 2002, p. 216). As Pillow (2003) has noted, such reflections “requires the researcher to be critically conscious through personal accounting of how the researcher’s self-location (across for example, gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality), position, and interest influence all stages of the research process” (p. 178). Wasserfall (1997) explained the role of reflexivity in immersing the researcher in fieldwork experiences:
…the use of reflexivity during fieldwork can mute the distance and alienation built into conventional notions of ‘objectivity’ or objectifying those who are studied. The research process becomes more mutual, as a strategy to deconstruct the author’s authority. (p. 152)
As an internative researcher, I alternated between reflecting on my intentions and observations as a researcher, and the experiences that transpired from the interactions I had with the dance teachers. This “reflexiveness pulled me towards other dance teachers and away from myself (Meyerhoff & Ruby, 1982). It created questions that I used to further  interrogate my place in the inquiry: 1) who am I in this research process? 2) How are my evolving identities impacting my position in fieldwork activities? 3) What role do the voices of the dance teachers as research participants play in fashioning my reflections on my  identities?  These  fieldwork  reflections  allowed  me  to  explore  self-actualisation (Maslow, 1971) and reflect on what my sense of self meant for the insights I generated, observations I made, connections I established, interactions I engaged in, and the dilemmas I encountered.

READ  Fantasy in surrealism and hysteria

Constructing negotiated reality

During data collection in the fieldwork, I also set out to achieve negotiated reality, which Crapanzano (1980) has defined as meaningful rapport, between the dance teachers and myself as the researcher. Key among the techniques I applied to become immersed in negotiated reality was a gradual integration into the fieldwork communities.
I engaged with the voices and views of the dance teachers and embedded myself in the fieldwork environments. For example, while researching the dance activities of a community in Nagguru, where Matthew teaches, I participated in dance and non-dance activities right from the beginning as a new learner of Larakaraka and Bwola dances. These activities included carrying instruments out of the storeroom and returning them to storage, clearing open spaces for dance activities, and sorting the instruments and costumes. Through this hands-on communal participation, I sought to dissolve hierarchical barriers between the community and me. This created an environment of trust, which brought me closer to the dance teachers and the fieldwork activities.
The dance activities and dance teachers that I researched were varied. Although some participants were Baganda, an ethnic tribe to which I belong, their stories, backgrounds,  visions,  and  philosophies  of  work  varied  depending  on  their  gender, upbringing, working environment and social status. Some participants were working in suburban, rural, religious, environments and communities. This diversity meant that I engaged in each fieldwork activity differently.
Commenting on how unique each experience with a research participant can be, Kibirige (2015) observed that cultural heritage dance knowledge could be personalised and understood by the person embodying it. This embodiment of dance knowledge can evolve in different context of dance practice. Kibirige gave the example of Myel Bwola dance, where the dancer is the viewer, performer, singer and drummer. Each of these roles is highly personal and can only be understood by the person when they experience them. Considering that dance experiences can be complex, I engaged in fieldwork on a case-by-case basis to unveil the unique experiences of each dance teacher.
As a participant observer, I partook in practicing new cultural heritage dances with a community in Naguru in the Kampala district. Matthew Watmon and members of the community taught me Larakaraka dance from the Acholi people of northern Uganda. Matthew insisted that as a novice learner, I had to go through preliminary classes first under the guidance of dancers. These initial foundational classes put emphasis on first grasping Larakaraka drum rhythms before embarking on learning dance songs and movements. This process, which is unique to Larakaraka dance, exposed me to the complexities of the dance activities. My integration into the fieldwork experience through these initial tasks deepened my relationship with Matthew and his community.
As I immersed myself in fieldwork activities, I also created distance (Buzard, 2003; Geertz, 1973) as a means of achieving an understanding of dance practices. I was critical and reflective in this space, but not necessarily detached from the realities in which the dance practices occurred (Buzard, 2003). This was necessary in revealing the intricate knowledge embedded in the complex pedagogic practices of the dance teachers.

Research frame, theory and methodology

I engaged a combination of two intellectual thoughts, namely Ubuntu (see 2.1.1) and constructivism (Dewey, 1938; Kolb, 1984; Piaget, 1970; Bruner, 1960; Vygotsky, 1978) to address the following question: How do dance teachers engage the Ubuntu worldview to rationalise pedagogies of cultural heritage dances in central Uganda? The concept of Ubuntu enabled me to locate the dance teachers as individual doers, knowers, actors, constructivists and thinkers operating within the community context. I explored how experiential and embodied reciprocity between their individualities and community contributes in framing the ways they develop and apply their teaching methods.
The theory of constructivism allowed me to investigate the dance teachers’ rationalisation of pedagogies as a “depthful act of thinking in movement” (Vezina, 2006, p. iii), which is “relative to a specific conceptual scheme, theoretical framework, paradigm, form of life, society, or culture . . .” (Bernstein, 1983, p. 8). I pursued the view that every dance teacher is capable of looking critically at the dance activities and developing knowledge and meanings out of their reflections. Dance teachers reflectively perceive personal and social realities and experiences, become conscious of their own construction of that reality, and deal critically in re/creating it (Freire, 1974).
I drew on the theory of constructivism to examine how the pedagogic knowledge (Shuman, 1987) of the dance teachers is individually constructed and rationalised within the context of the communities in which they teach. I investigated how the reflections of the dance teachers encompass experience, conscience, objective, history, essence, and agency. I considered the reflections as a way “to look back over what has been done so as to extract the net meanings, which are the capital stock of intelligent dealing with further experiences” (Dewey, 1938, pp. 86-87).
Rossman, 2010; Saldana, 2011) to gather research data. I examined the processes, reflections, and experiences (Barbour, 2014) of the dance teachers in their pedagogic practices. Qualitative research allowed me “to represent the views and perspectives of the participants in the study and capture the meanings given to real life events by people who live them, not the preconceptions or meanings held by the researcher” (Yin, 2011, p. 8).

Phenomenological research paradigm

Hannink, Hutter and Bailey (2010) observed that conducting qualitative research effectively requires both learning the methods and internalising the concepts and assumptions. Since this research study centered on investigating the complex pedagogic experiences, reflections and practices as lived, rationalised, and embodied by the dance teachers, I employed an existential phenomenological research paradigm, which highlighted the interconnection between the conscious and embodied lived experiences of the dance teachers (Giorgi, 1989; Groenwald, 2004; Heidegger, 1962; Leonard, 1999; Sadala & Adorno, 2001) to elicit research data.
I analysed and interpreted pedagogic phenomena; investigated the totality of dance teachers’ reflections; and examined how they draw on the Ubuntu worldview to rationalise pedagogies. The phenomenological lens provided clarification of the dance teachers’ multifaceted perspectives on lived worlds (Kvale, 1996). The critical application of phenomenological inquiry focused not only on the dance teachers’ reflections, but also emphasised how they constructed their pedagogic experiences and orientations. I considered the dance teachers’ complex rationalisation of pedagogies as an “…experience of being conscious of something” (Holloway, 1997, p. 117). I pursued pedagogy as a lived, embodied, rationalised, and cognitivised phenomena by the individual dance teachers.
Since “the experiential aspect of dance, which we might call its perception, is an embodied corporeal act, one which is embedded in the conditions of its articulation” (Rothfield, 2005, p. 47), I also explored pedagogy as an embodied domain of knowledge through participant and nonparticipant observations. I refrained from importing external frameworks and judgments about the realness of the pedagogic phenomena, and instead explored my own agency in these experiential pedagogic activities to investigate pedagogy from a first-person position.

Table of contents
Table of contents 
Chapter One: Introduction and background to the study
1.1. Introduction
1.2. Deconstructing the statement problem
1.3. Contextualizing the problem statement: Perceived rational deficit in African dances
1.4. The research questions
1.5. Objectives of the study
1.6. Significance of the study
1.7. Definition of key terms
1.8. Dancing into pedagogic rationalities: Overview of the thesis
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Ubuntu: Between individuality and communality
2.3. Individuality and communality in cultural heritage dance practices
2.4. Music as dance and dance as music: Locating the Ubuntu connection
2.5. Conclusion
Chapter Three: Deconstructing a diversity of scholarly narratives on dance education: A literature review
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Dance in education
3.3. Dance pedagogy
3.4. Pedagogies of African dances
3.5. Assessment and feedback in dance pedagogy
3.6. Dance teachers’ teaching competences
3.7. Conclusion
Chapter Four: Fieldwork reflections and research methodology
4.1. Introduction
4.2. ‘Internative’ ethnographer: Unveiling autoethnographic fieldwork reflections .
4.3. Research frame, theory and methodology
4.4. Phenomenological research paradigm
4.5. Data collection
4.6. Ethical considerations
4.7. Analysis of research data
4.8. Problems and limitations of the research
4.9. Delimitations of the study
Chapter Five: This is who we are: The dance teachers’ journeys into dance practices
5. 1. Introduction
5. 2. Profiles of the dance teachers
5.3. Conclusion
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Rationalising content knowledge of the dances
6.3. Methods of learning cultural heritage dances
6.4. Learning contexts of cultural heritage dances .
6.5. Learning ethnically diverse cultural heritage dances in complex cultural environments
6.6. Conclusion
Chapter Seven: Pedagogies of thought, knowing, doing, being, and becoming: Rationalising teaching of ethnically diverse cultural heritage dances
7.1. Introduction
7.2. Rationalizing teaching plans: Dance teachers’ preparations
7.3. Setting the dance classes in motion: Teaching tasks, activities, and goals
7.4. Rationalising movements, gestures, and techniques of the dances
7.5. Rationalising the learning gaps: Interactive assessment and feedbac
7.6. Rationalising dance pedagogies through music
7.7. Teaching complex movements, gestures, and techniques of diverse ethnic dances
Chapter Eight: Deconstructing the research coda: Conclusion and final reflections
8.1. Introduction
8.2. Decosntructing Ubuntu as an ontological and pedagogical idiom of thought
8.3. Pedagogies of dances from Africa and the prevailing gaps in the literature
8.4. Deconstructing internative fieldwork identities and research methodology
8.5. Deconstructing the multifaceted dance journeys of dance teachers
8.6. Deconstructing acquisition of cultural heritage dance content knowledge by the dance teachers
8.7. Deconstructing the dance teacher’s application of pedagogies of cultural heritage dances
8.8. Deconstructing assessment and feedback methods as pedagogy
8.9. Deconstructing music as a pedagogic aid of cultural heritage dances
8.10. Deconstructing the embodied teaching of diverse cultural heritage dances
8.11. Recommendations and implications
8.12. Deconstructing the research(er’s) journey: An internative’s wrap up
Deconstructing pedagogies of African cultural heritage dances: Reflections, rationalities, and practices of dance teachers in central Uganda

Related Posts