Trial by Fire

Trauma, Vulnerability and the Heroics of Fieldwork


  • Rachel Douglas-Jones IT University of Copenhagen
  • Nayanika Mathur University of Oxford
  • Catherine Trundle Victoria University of Wellington
  • Tarapuhi Vaeau Victoria University of Wellington



In this Introduction, we take two persistent tropes of fieldwork, the ‘trial by fire’ and the ‘heroic fieldworker’ to task. Our analysis traces out what we call everyday decentering of these tropes, which we argue is necessary for fieldwork to be taught and engaged with beyond romanticised twentieth century masculinist heroics. We argue that anthro-pology and related field research based disciplines might be better served by adopting a more ethnographic approach towards the lived reality of fieldwork. Through our review, we situate the contribution that the six pieces in this volume make to pedagogies of the field. Readers are invited to continue this conversation about fieldwork futures in anthropology’s second century.


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