Authored by DPDF 2012 Ecological History Research Director Stevan Harrell and Li Xingxing, featured in Red Stamps and Gold Stars: Fieldwork Dilemmas in Upland Socialist Asia, by Sarah Turner:
In the late 1970s and ’80s, socialist countries in Asia began reopening their borders to overseas scholars. Today, a growing number of social scientists are embarking on fieldwork in China, Vietnam, and Laos. Red Stamps and Gold Stars brings together all the messiness, compromise, and ethical dilemmas that underscore fieldwork in upland socialist Asia and elsewhere in the Global South. These challenges can range from how to gain research access to politically sensitive border regions, to helping informants-turned-friends access appropriate health care, to reflections on how to best represent ethnic minority voices.
The human geographers and social anthropologists contributing to this volume are actively engaged in research with ethnic minorities in upland socialist Asia. Accomplished geographers, anthropologists, and ethnohistorians, they foreground the importance of questioning one’s subjective gaze and of debating representations of “the other.” Reflecting on the realities of fieldwork in socialist regimes and analyzing their positionality and subjectivity in the field, the contributors debate a range of ethical quandaries and the rewards that can be gained from critical reflection. Together, these unique contributions will advance the study of the practice of international fieldwork.