Handbook for Folklore and Ethnomusicology Fieldwork

Handbook for Folklore and Ethnomusicology Fieldwork

Edited by Lisa Gilman and John Fenn
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/05/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04025-1
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Handbook for Folklore and Ethnomusicology Fieldwork offers a comprehensive review of the ethnographic process for developing a project, implementing the plan, and completing and preserving the data collected. Throughout, readers will find a detailed methodology for conducting different types of fieldwork such as digital ethnography or episodic research, tips and tricks for key elements like budgeting and funding, and practical advice and examples gleaned from the authors own fieldwork experiences. This handbook also helps fieldworkers fully grasp and understand the ways in which power, gender, ethnicity, and other identity categories are ever present in fieldwork and guides students to think through these dynamics at each stage of research. Written accessibly for lay researchers working in different mediums and on projects of varying size, this step-by-step manual will prepare the reader for the excitement, challenges, and rewards of ethnographic research.

Author Bio

Lisa Gilman serves on the faculty in Folklore and English at George Mason University. She is author of My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and The Dance of Politics: Performance, Gender, and Democratization in Malawi. She is also editor (with Michael Dylan Foster) of UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage and producer of the documentary Grounds for Resistance: Stories of War, Sacrifice, and Good Coffee.

John Fenn is Head of Research and Programs at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Throughout his career he has brought an ethnographic perspective to field research, focused on the roles of creative and artistic practice in communities. Across fieldwork on arts and culture in Malawi (SE Africa), China, Indiana, and Oregon, he has documented a range of dynamic cultural practices, traditions, and groups working individually as well as in collaboration with teams of other researchers and cultural practitioners.



A soup to nuts guide that recognizes the multiple ways in which ethnographic research is conducted in different settings and renders them all legitimate. Handbook for Folklore and Ethnomusicology Fieldwork dismantles the assumption that only immersive fieldwork counts and it offers suggestions for how to successfully organize and conduct episodic (dipping in and out of the field) research, which is much more typical of undergraduate student projects as well as of public folklore and community-based collaborative projects.


 (Katherine Borland, author of Unmasking Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Nicaraguan Festival)


A much-needed handbook for those teaching folklore and ethnomusicology fieldwork at various levels. The authors offer practical advice grounded in their own experiences and tactfully but seriously address issues of positionality, power, and ethics in ways that demonstrate how central such issues are in all stages of a fieldwork project.


 (Ann K. Ferrell, author of Burley: Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century)

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