Fieldwork and Pain
Issues in field research methodologies involving extreme field circumstances
Keywords:asceticism, fieldwork, hermeneutic, Japan, methodology, objectivity, religion
Participant observation in particularly demanding circumstances may often blur the line between the researcher and the object of research. Such are the cases where the researcher needs to participate in “extreme” religious feats involving ascetic practices, seclusion, use of narcotics, and so on. In such circumstances traditional methodological approaches seem to be undermined by the compelling urge for the researcher to deal with his or her own needs as well as carrying on the proposed fieldwork research. Although this can be considered as an argument for lack of “objectivity,” it should also be noted that this outburst of “feelings” and other emotional traits might be considered as part of the fieldwork results as well. The purpose of this article is to offer a variety of fieldwork data collected under such particular research circumstances for scrutiny. The main portion of the material comes from a field research conducted in 2006–2007 in Japan, dealing with Japanese ascetic practices.
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