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Essays

On the heartbreak of leaving the field

I wrote in my Maruman notebook, with its pages still silky and without a grain of desert sand in its folds, that there was no time for my usual timidity. The nature of the ethnographic fieldwork I was about to embark upon required that people open up to me. I needed to know them and understand them. But how could I expect them to show themselves to me if I was unwilling or unable to do the same? So I promised myself, there on page one of my field notes, that I would be open.

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Alejandra Melian-Morse