To Stop and See: Contemplative Fieldwork as Thoughtful Observation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Contemplation, or the practice of sitting still to ‘stop and see’, can expand one’s embodied awareness. This expanded awareness resembles ethnographic sensibility, a disposition practiced by researchers to generate an understanding of the ‘field’. My fieldwork on contemplative activism involves a double thoughtful observation: once as contemplation, and once as ethnographic sensitivity. How do I make sense of data as I cannot distinguish between my own embodied experiences of contemplation and my methodological practices as a fieldworker? How do I engage with ‘data’ that escape words when contemplative activism takes place in silence? Rather than making the familiar strange -as much literature on fieldwork suggests- keeping the ‘strange’ strange might be similarly productive, especially when it concerns esoteric experiences fieldworkers (perhaps) have in the field. Instead of ethnographic sensibility being about seeing differently, ‘learning’ in the field can be about practicing to ‘stop and see’ different things.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-296
JournalPolitical Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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