CFP: Theorizing Fieldwork

CFP: “Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities,” a colloquium at University of Pittsburgh, March 28-29, 2014. Submissions due: December 1, 2013.

Call for Papers
Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities
Colloquium: March 28-29, 2014
Completion of edited volume: December 2014

Many scholars in the humanities have found fieldwork an indispensable
tool, as we have, and have found that it transformed the practice and
goals of our scholarship.  Yet there exists in the humanities no public
discourse on fieldwork, nor any formal training in how to conduct
fieldwork. Far from fieldwork’s being an institutionalized or at least
institutionally recognized part of our work, we often have to fashion and
improvise our own rough tools with which to conduct it.  And we do this
largely in isolation.  This colloquium launches a conversation amongst
humanities scholars doing fieldwork on the global south.  It seeks to
articulate, share, and develop our practices and understanding of
fieldwork in the humanities.

To that end, on March 28-29, 2014, we will bring together a number of
scholars from a range of humanities disciplines (including literature,
cultural studies, ethnomusicology, media studies, theatre, and art
history) and several areas in the global south: Africa, Latin America and
the Caribbean, Asia, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  We seek papers from
such disciplines as Art History, Literature, Media Studies, Performance
Studies, and Ethnomusicology.

Participants will be asked to write working papers that reflect upon some
of the guiding questions below through the lens of their own
fieldwork-based scholarship.  The working papers will be revised into
essays of 8-10,000 words for publication in the peer-reviewed volume
Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities, which we plan will go to press at
the end of 2014 and appear in 2015.

Guiding Questions:

•        How do the histories and orientations of different disciplines in
humanities inflect their visions of fieldwork?
•        How might fieldwork contribute to the goals of the humanities?
•        How might it expand the topics and scope of humanities inquiry?
•        What does current fieldwork in the humanities look like?
•        What made you turn to fieldwork?
•        How did it extend, shift, or transform your scholarship?
•        In what ways did you break with traditional practices of your
•        In what ways were the questions you asked enabled by, informed
by, or
grounded in your discipline?
•        What have you found to be some of the most powerful examples of
humanities-based fieldwork, to which you turned to help you?
•        What are the gains and methods of fieldwork if the topic of
investigation is not contemporary?
•        How do you understand the relationship of your fieldwork to the
practices and questions of social-science fieldwork?  What are the
similarities and differences?
•        What forms of interdisciplinarity did you practice?  What kinds of
conversations between social science and the humanities were necessary or
enabled by your project?
•        What kinds of ethical dilemmas and protocols arose for you in the
of fieldwork?
•        What forms of accountability might fieldwork facilitate that we
ordinarily not develop in the humanities?
•        How can fieldwork contribute to the project and methodologies of a
humanities-based comparative Area Studies?

Deadline for Bio and Abstract of up to 1000 words: December 1, 2013
Deadline for working papers: March 1, 2014
Colloquium: March 28-29, 2014
Deadline for revised papers: October 1, 2014

For additional information please contact organizers Shalini Puri,
Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh
( and Debra Castillo, Professor of Comparative Literature,
Cornell University (