As the new academic year is about begin we take a moment to reflect on some of the fieldwork conducted by our MSc students in 2015. Laura Chilintan and Tanushree Sarkar have kindly agreed to share their pictures and experiences of gathering data for their dissertations.
Laura’s fieldwork was conducted in Romania where she explored social representations of communities which have experienced relatively recent ruptures, in order to understand the ways in which people re-built a ‘sense of community’. To elicit them, she asked people to recount recent histories of the village’s life. She recorded twenty-seven unstructured interviews and conducted participant observation for two weeks, in two villages. Laura describes her experience:
“Despite my slight anxiety about going there alone, and about gaining entry to the communities, the experience was marvellous. Not only did I manage to collect the necessary data, but it was personally enriching. I hope my pictures convey some of the excitement of this experience“.
The following pictures document Laura’s research:
This is a ‘creplă’ – where cows drink water from every day. The villages used to be predominantly populated by Saxons – an ethnic minority of Romania. They are a German people who came to Transylvania in the 12th century. They have conserved their language and traditions, remaining relatively closed as a community.
Saxons’ Evangelical Church in Richis village, Sibiu county, Romania. However, after the fall of communism in Romania, most Saxons left their villages for Germany, as they had been oppressed by the regime, which associated them with the Nazism. Their houses soon fell into decay, as the new population was too poor and not used to maintaining such big houses (which used to house about three generations inside).
Houses were extensive, accommodating about three generations. Viscri village, Brasov county, Romania. In 1999, a British-Romanian NGO, Mihai Eminescu Trust (MET), was set up to conserve and regenerate the villages and communes in Transylvania and the Maramureş. They have managed to revitalise the Saxon architecture, using local workforce and local materials. Hence, they created jobs, and created the context for a new economy, tourism.
A preserved interior of a Saxon house in Viscri.
Istvàn, a Gabor Roma blacksmith, gains from tourism by selling lucky charms to tourists, made on the spot. Viscri village.
Olga is a Roma woman who does felt shoes for tourists, to help her cope with economic demands. She does this within Women’s Association. It takes her aprox. eight hours to complete a pair. Viscri village.
A daily scenery in Viscri.
Most of the village’s sheep graze on the hills where there once used to be vineyards. Richis village. Villages where some form of development has taken place (like tourism) have started to witness the benefits of this – more children go to school; access health services; ‘harmful’ drinking has been reduced; and less people migrate to other countries to look for work. For example, although the general trend is that villages have an aged population, there are more children and young people on the streets than in most other villages.
Me and a Roma boy who showed me the way to one of my interviewees. Richis village.
Children drawing with chalk in front of the Evangelical Church, Richis village. I loved being in those villages – life conditions were simple, nature was amasing, and people were lovely.
Horse-drawn carriages are common for poor people, especially for the Roma population, which is, by far, the most marginalised minority in Romania. Richis village.
I am ending this presentation with one of my favourite pictures. Cows were going for the evening water drinking. Viscri village.
Tanushree conducted her fieldwork with seventh grade students from two private schools in New Delhi, India. The students were asked to draw an intelligent and ordinary student for her work on children’s conceptions of intelligence, linking implicit theories of intelligence to social representations.
Many thanks to Laura and Tanushree for kindly offering to share their pictures.
If you would like your fieldwork images to be included in the gallery, please contact the blog editor Brett Heasman (email@example.com) with a short description of each image.