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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Apprenticeship, Mental Geography, Researcher as System, and Questions

Below are some diagrams that show the relationship between researcher, childhood memories and environment. The first diagram schematizes the Mental Geography of the Researcher. Only those childhood experiences of WWII and the Early Post-War years are shown that erupted during my first fieldwork in the Lenda valley of Zambia. It should be noted that during the years of assimilation to, and graduate education in, Canada and the United States, personal memories were dormant. I was made aware, however, that Germany was responsible for the Holocaust. The latter was not a personal experience; rather, the experience was one of having been made aware of it as a teenager and young adult in Canada and the United States. The book shows how all this plays into the research.

The row below indicates that Personal Memories Erupted first in Zambia at specific times and on seeing Lenda nature, local makeshift dwellings, experiencing close relationships, during border crossings, and on observing the decadence in the southern part of the region. How all this happened is of course the story of the book. Clearly, these memories generated biases, but in the sense of both positive and negative ones. It is a topic that is picked up again, along with others, in the Concluding Chapter of the book.

The next Diagram sketches the Researcher as System always in relationship with the Environment. The latter consists of the research environment in Zambia, or what I called the Lenda valley and, through correspondence, that of North America. The researcher as system consists of the person doing the research and, while she is doing science, heeding what is happening inside of her. The latter involves, of course, the use of faculties other than, and in addition to, reason, for example, feeling, intuition, the imagination, and so on. The reverse arrow is there to remind ourselves that all these interactions during the research process have consequences, usually unanticipated ones, and involve risk. Doing field work is a highly dynamic set of activities and communications. The book does not analyze these so much as show them.

PowerPoint Slides as guides to the book: My Apprenticeship