Book section Open Access

Bumbling Along Together: Producing Collaborative Fieldnotes

Wojcik, Andrea; Allison, Rachel V.; Harris, Anna

With shifting scientific research practices, team ethnography is becoming more common and visible, partly due to changes in technological infrastructures and funding schemes that support collaborative work. The rise of team ethnography also challenges ethnographic practices built around the ideal of a “lone ranger” in the field. In this chapter, we explore one aspect of ethnographic fieldwork that changes in team ethnography—producing and sharing fieldnotes. Specifically, we reflect on our experiences producing “collaborative fieldnotes” across three geographically distant medical schools. Like the anthropologist Janelle Taylor, we recognize the value of sometimes being able to “bumble”—allowing ourselves to be flexible and responsive to our experiences in the field—through ethnography. We suggest that producing collaborative fieldnotes within team ethnography is generative for bumbling along together within what Taylor refers to as “regimes of accountability.” Allowing ourselves to bumble through producing collaborative fieldnotes helped shape our accountability to each other as members of a team. We draw upon examples of instructing, sharing, and discussing our collaborative fieldnotes to illustrate this formative relationship between bumbling, collaboration, and accountability.

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