Preparing cultural anthropology graduate students to enter the field: issues and considerations to establish pre-fieldwork training to address sexual assault/harassment
Melina Taylor (University of South Florida)
Paper short abstract:
Cultural anthropologists are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault/harassment while conducting fieldwork. This paper will address these issues from the graduate student perspective; providing potential training topics that universities can implement to better prepare students for the field.
Paper long abstract:
While anthropologists are prone to experiencing sexual assault/harassment conducting fieldwork, cultural anthropologists are particularly vulnerable as they are usually in the field alone, potentially isolated in remote locations, and/or establishing trust and rapport with individuals that they have no prior relationship with. This increased exposure can lead to potentially tricky ethical situations when it comes to protecting the emotional and physical wellbeing of the anthropologist's body. As such, many graduate students are not given resources or training before entering the field, except in relation to how the anthropologist may impact local populations, not vice versa. This is an important gap that needs to be filled in anthropological training. This can be accomplished in university departments which can provide input, experience, and expertise to help better prepare graduate students entering the field. This paper will draw on past master's fieldwork experiences dealing with sexual assault/harassment, as well as future preparations being undertaken to conduct dissertation fieldwork. A guideline of issues to address from the student perspective with university departments will be provided to highlight issues related to early career researchers with emphasis on both physical and emotional needs. Particular focus will be placed on gender dynamics in the field, and racial/ethnic divides of the researcher and participants, with a discussion on power dynamics and how to approach issues of sexual harassment/assault while respecting the needs and daily lives of the local population.