13 September 2014

Dissertation Fieldwork: The Beginning

Today is my first full day of my dissertation fieldwork and thus an excellent opportunity to bring this blog back from the dead.

To recap, I am conducting this research as part of my PhD degree. Fieldwork is a necessary part of any anthropology PhD, and the norm is to conduct at least 12 months of fieldwork. I have already conducted two months of pre-dissertation research in the summer of 2012 in South Dakota and Brazil, now I am beginning dissertation research with three months of research in Western Bahia, Brazil. In early December I'll return to North Carolina and continue to try to conduct interviews via telephone or Skype before returning to Brazil in late February to finish the last 9 months of research. I'll be discussing the details of my research project while here, but for now check out my personal website for a brief description - http://anthropology.unc.edu/person/andrew-ofstehage/

My trip down went well in that I started in Carrboro and ended up in Brasilia, but some of the details could have been better. I left home at 9:30 am Thursday morning and left via Raleigh-Durham airport to Baltimore at noon. After a short layover in Baltimore I had a second flight to Atlanta. The layover in Atlanta was quite long, but not bad. Plenty of comfy chairs, free WIFI, and a lot of good people watching. On time again, I left Atlanta at 9 pm for an expected 9 hour flight and an expected arrival in Brasilia the next morning. However, after about 2.5 hours the pilot made an abrupt announcement that for un-named reasons we would be returning directly to Atlanta. According to one of the flight attendants the radar had stopped working and we had no choice but to return. So, at 1 am we arrived back in Atlanta, no closer to Brazil than I'd been at 3 pm earlier that day.

So, we waited, eating free candy and coke, until we all heard any news. "We think we can leave by 4 am," became "there is a flight scheduled for 4 am, but no pilots," then finally, "there is a flight scheduled for 5:30 am." When 5:30 crept up we did finally leave and the flight was uneventful, I mostly slept and watched HBO. We arrived at 4 pm. Upon arrival I spent a good amount of time arranging for money to be changed and getting through customs and arrived at my hotel at 6 pm. There I found  my luck had turned. Due to overbooking I was upgraded from a shared 4-bed hostel to an apartment-style room of my own.

I'll spend the weekend here in Brazil, kind of just relaxing and doing some touristy things, before leaving for my fieldsite on Monday. More news to follow.

My hotel:

All these notebooks need to be filled in with juicy ethnographic notations:

And this from a nearby restaurant:

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