Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Almost there: Pre-fieldwork particulars

It's been a hectic little while...

In less than 3 weeks, I'll be heading to South Korea for 6 months of ethnographic fieldwork on the intergenerational use of information communication technologies (games, wireless, etc), and the changing social dynamics in the nation amidst the impacts of transnationality.

The Department of Communication at Seoul National University has invited me to commence a stay with them as a Visiting Researcher during that time. I'll be working with Professor Myungkoo Kang, who is a leading authority on the concept of East Asian Modernity and the study of media and culture.

In addition to the scholastic rigours that come with such an endeavour, I've also been distracted (to put it mildly) with the bureaucratic rigours as well. More than usual. It wouldn't be a blog entry without some inanity, so the laundry list of the last 3 weeks includes:

  • Phone calls with governmental organizations, with paperwork follow-up
  • Health exams: chest x-rays, vaccinations, blood, (and yes everything else!). I'm in "excellent" health, by the way--the paper says so now.
  • Administration: ordering documentation, booking flights, accomodation, registration, scanning, emailing... unsubscribing to this, subscribing to that, it's all stuff that needs to be done.
  • Purchasing research materials--books, equipment, favourite face cream. (ok, that's not research... or is it...:)

The problem, as many know... is that many of these things rely upon the schedule of others. So if there's not enough time to crank the wheels, there's simply nothing one can do. Wait in the cue. Have a good book. Get really practiced at saying, "it's alright" to people at the counter just doing their jobs.

Fieldwork is a full-bodied effort. It's the virtue and vice of being an ethnographer. You have to be 'there,' and take everything that comes with getting there, being there, and leaving there. In addition to that, there's the administration that comes with being here, leaving here, and coming back here..... nevermind securing the funding and support to carry those plans out.

So, I've been yammering about this trip for four years since my last fieldwork stint in Korea four years ago, applying for this and that grant, asking for reference letters, signatures, coffee talk, sanity checks. The time has finally come, and I bet everyone else is relieved along with me. Fortunately, I've encountered very helpful, kind, and positive people who are on my side when it comes to getting these things done (in all stages of the aforementioned tasks). There has also been some great news regarding getting this research funded, for which I'm just waiting on the official announcement of before letting the cat out of the bag here.

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