what to pack in your fieldwork bag?

August 13, 2007 § 2 Comments

Today on Savage Minds, an anthropology blog, there was a post about what anthropologists take with them when they go to the field. There were only four or five different responses listed, but I found it fascinating to peer inside their bags. While I am just at the beginning of this process, I thought it may be interesting to share what I brought with me on my recent trip to Miami (that’s where I plan to do my fieldwork).

For some background: My research is about Caribbean women artists who currently live or work in Miami. (I’ll leave it at that short version for right now) I spent most of my time there this summer interviewing artists, gallerists, curators, and writers in Miami and the surrounding area. Additionally, I visited many museums, galleries, and artists’ studios as well as attended special events like monthly gallery walks.

What’s in my bag(s)?

(oh, and these are in no particular order. the order is as i remembered to jot each one down.)

1- Sony Vaio Laptop with wireless card (old, but good; pared down storage prior to trip to make room)

2- Olympus DS-30 digital voice recorder (new and works very well; highly recommended!)

3- ipod (for running music; mine is not big enough for data storage)

4- usb thumb drive

5- Canon Powershot digital camera (good quality point-and-shoot)

6- Canon 20D (for dedicated photographing days)

7- business cards which I personalized with my own photos

8- Treo680 (cell phone, low-quality camera, calendar, personal assistant and contact organizer all-in-one)

9- running shoes

10- medium-sized tan canvas shoulder bag with a front flap (it’s large enough to hold a lot, but makes it appear as if I am not; can do double-duty as a bag or a purse)

11- gum (always want to be pleasant, even after lunch)

12- purse-sized deodorant, wipes, and tissues (for freshening up in the car; Miami is hot!)

13- small wire-rung notebook with plastic zipping case in front and several pens (the front pocket is perfect to store pieces of paper and other people’s business cards)

14- my collection of chargers- cell phone, ipod, cameras, laptop

15- AAA batteries for voice recorder (I kept 2 extra in my bag at all times)

16- example of my own artwork- either on my thumbdrive or my website (This was something I didn’t really anticipate. However, since I am also an artist, the other artists wanted to see my work. Most seemed happy when they were able to hear about the work I was doing in addition to telling me about themselves.)

17- patience

18- courage

19- humor

20- IRB paperwork (consent forms in English and Spanish, interview questions, etc.)

21- access to files stored remotely such as additional consent forms, grant proposals, and my last article and term paper

(22) These things I bought or borrowed while I was in Miami: Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (borrowed from the Miami Beach Public Library); video camera (borrowed from my parents); miniDV tapes (bought at Publix); tripod (borrowed from my parents)

In addition to these items, I, of course, brought clothing, which consisted mostly of dresses, skirts, tank tops, chancletas, and a shawl. I vowed to only pack one suitcase, which I did. Though this meant I had to wear the same clothes over and over again. However, it was a good thing I stuck to that because I had to borrow a suitcase from my family to pack up on the way back to school. This one was filled with books, magazines, and newspaper clippings from and about Miami.

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