2003 Report

Ethnographic Field Methods Program, Year



The Center for Social Well Being, a non-profit Peruvian-based research institute, carried out a 3 week Summer Program with courses in language, ethnography, and field methods from June 15 – July 5, 2003. 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, Ethnography of Andean Knowledge, and Participatory Action Research theory and methods.

A combined group of advanced undergraduate and graduate students (19 total) from the US, Canada, Honduras, Spain and Great Britain participated in the 2004 program. The program balanced formal classroom instruction with practical experience of field work assignments. Students observed and participated with local residents in settings such as, market bartering, meetings of the district authorities, primary school classes, organized women’s groups, participatory research sessions, preparation and celebration of fiestas, medicinal plant identification, gathering, and treatments; as well as daily and seasonal productive activities.

Students’ Comments

  • “I was surprised that hats would be such key locaters of place and space. I didn’t know that when I bought a traditional campesino hat of Carhuaz it would be such a conversation opener and identifying factor tied to a certain way of being/living.”
  • “What I have learned about ethnographic methods is that there are many different ways to observe or participate with a culture. I have learned that ethnographic study can take a lifetime.”
  • “The most important thing in doing an ethnography is actually to be part of the community or movement that one is trying to do research about.”
  • “I learned a good deal about teamwork, leadership and methods of performing field work in a respectful, fruitful way which engages and hopefully helps the community as well as myself.”
  • “I have seen pride and joy, richness in poverty and many beautiful faces along the road. What I have learned has given me great hope for the future of anthropology. Empowering people instead of writing about them seems like a much better approach.”
  • “I learned much on this journey about participant observation. Having not done much field work as of yet, I was pleased to be able to practice this skill in Catay. I am not sure if my perceptive powers have grown, but my confidence with the experience will guide me well.”
  • “Participatory Action Research is a great way to teach and empower people while, at the same time, learning from them. Learning in groups is beneficial in many ways. People learn from each other and share ideas while the researcher learns from the collective group.”
  • “My experiences here have given me new sentiments about the world I live in. Talking with so many amazing people who are making a difference in their own communities has given me mixed feelings about my role. But, I have seen women working for the rights of mothers and daughters; and curanderos working to maintain a traditional, sustainable, affordable health system.”


Photo gallery



Name: Rebecca Corran
Paper Title: PAPAS PARA PROSPERAR (POTATOES TO THRIVE): Lessons on Andean Ethnography, the Study of Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Living

“Initially, I had very few expectations about my summer in the Peruvian highlands, only that I would be involved in research on community issues while engaging participatory methods; and experiencing a brief life as an anthropologist abroad. Little did I know the scope of what I would participate in and learn. From meeting a local woman working for change, to challenging misconceptions I had about traditional and western medicine, I gained invaluable experience that will affect my future life as an anthropologist and as an individual committed to making change in the world.” | more… |

Name: Rebecca Corran
Paper Title: Peru Reflections

“Fieldwork in Ancash, Peru, while often challenging, was one of the best experiences of my life. I witnessed successful participatory-action-research, and perpetrated anthropological blunders in my own studies. I learned the most critical assurance for success as a participatory anthropologist is listening to people (rather than talking at them) and if I do want to change the world, I know now I will have to first appreciate different realities (my own and others).” | more… |

Name: Jessica Dean
Paper Title: Ethnographic Field Methods Program, 2003

“The generosity of all the Andean people I came in contact with, while on the course was overwhelming: from the generous invitations to the fiesta de San Juan in Shilla and the re-enactment of the Inca ritual in Huaraz, to the kindness shown to us in the local school and the town’s market place (and at many other times), everywhere we met with kindness and a welcome.” | more… |

Name: Leah Getchell
Paper Title: Andean Ethnography

“The first morning I walked out of our dark cool bedroom at La Casa de Pocha and was greeted by the warm Andean sun and the glistening of snow peaked mountains in the distance, I knew Ancash was a special place and unlike any other I had ever been.” | more… |

Name: Leah Getchell
Paper Title: Participatory Action Research

“I had never heard of PAR until I read the course outline for the field school. I was completely surprised when I began to do the assigned readings to find the basis of PAR’s ideology is based largely on the work of Paulo Freire. I had just finished learning about Freire’s dialogic approach to liberation in an anthropological theory course. Freire’s ideas about ‘banking’ education and liberation through dialogue really clicked with me, it seemed almost common sense.” | more… |



Posted on: September 21, 2017admin