Summer in the Andes: Ethnographic Field School, Year I
CSW held its first field research methods training course for undergraduate and graduate students in June, 2002. The majority of participants in the two week course were undergraduates from US universities who had completed their third year of academic study. Director of CSW, Patricia Hammer, created and managed the summer program. Faculty Associate A.B. Coe taught and supervised the Health Advocacy component, while S. Wegner provided readings and led field visits to archaeological sites in the region. As Peruvian residents, P. Hammer, A.B. Coe and S. Wegner often serve as mentors to Peruvian and international graduate and undergraduate students in the development of their field investigations. Other Associate Faculty members teach and serve as advisors to graduate and undergraduate students at Peruvian universities year round in Ancash and Lima, where thesis research is a principal requirement.
Students were housed at the center’s rural base, an adobe lodge on an ecological ranch in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the Callejon de Huaylas, 7 hours northeast of Lima. Coursework consisted of classes in Spanish, Quechua, Andean Ethnography, Advocacy for Social Change and Participatory Action Research methods. Students developed language skills and were able to try out research methods in Cajamarquilla where the field base is located, as well as in the nearby community of Shilla, and the provincial capital, Carhuaz. In addition to classroom instruction, discussions, analysis and field practice, local archaeological sites were visited.
Courses were geared toward advanced undergraduates and graduate students in anthropology and other relevant social sciences, who require field research skills. Daily classes in Spanish and Quechua were taught by a local native speaker, and consisted of classroom instruction in grammar, reading and aural comprehension, composition and verbal expression. Language development exercises outside the classroom were assigned for practice in natural social settings (market, community gatherings, etc.).
Readings and discussions of contemporary Andean ethnography emphasized Quechua systems of healing, gender, and studies of customs throughout the Callejón de Huaylas. Students were familiarized with issues in Participatory Action Research methodology, with a special focus on consciousness raising and emancipatory inquiry in rural community organizations.
STUDENTS’ COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS 2002
- “I thought the market trips were most successful, fun and comprehensive. Each person could be involved at their own level, we took part in the community (and realized what being a part of it meant) and learned something in each interaction. Spacing out the trips by a week, too, was very important. I realized how much more comfortable I had become with the language, culture and town in a week’s time.”
- “The market excursions were fun and useful. My favorite thing was buying an alpaca in the animal market, and taking her back to the ranch.”
- “The trips to Shilla were great, I wish there had been more focus on getting up there and building a relationship with the community group. I was amazed at how much easier being there was the second and third times.”
- “It was great because we were immediately accepted or validated and didn’t have to feel uncomfortable trying to explore their culture.”
- “Most useful was the women’s meeting in Shilla, we seemed to be a part of the group and not outsiders like we often feel.”
- “The setting was perfect – we were close enough to everything, yet far away enough from everything. The places chosen to visit were reflections and examples of the issues we discussed in our classes.”
Application of Research Skills
One of the undergraduate participants in our June 2002 field methods program, Katherine Scaife, anthropology major from the University of Chicago, received a grant from her institution to serve as CSW’s summer intern in our Lima office. Under the supervision of P. Hammer and A.B. Coe, Ms. Scaife was assigned to carry out in-depth research with Peruvian-based NGOs to explore how current projects and programs operationalize the concept of “community participation.” She gathered data on the abilities required, training needs of staff to meet proposed obectives, and how community participation is measured, monitored and guaranteed sustainability when projects end. Once Ms. Scaife completed the transcription, ordering and summarizing of her research findings, CSW presented results back to research participants in Lima, to allow for open discussion and critical feedback. The final conclusions on the meanings and actual manifestations of “community participation” in Peruvian NGO projects were formally presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology annual conference in Portland, Oregon, March 2003.
Student thesis: Katherine Scaife, University of Chicago
Posted on: September 21, 2017admin