Fieldwork and Modern Languages Training Sessions, 2021-2022


Registration is now open for sessions taking place from February to March. All participants must register in advance of the seminar and some seminars have restricted numbers

Seminars take place on Wednesday afternoons on Zoom starting at 2pm (please note the seminars on 2 and 9 March 2022 are starting at 12noon).



Conducting Research in Post-Conflict Contexts

Seminar leader: Catherine Gilbert

Wednesday 2 February 2022, 2pm - 4pm.

Booking link:

Catherine conducted fieldwork in Rwanda in 2012 during her PhD and again in 2018 as part of a Marie Curie Fellowship. She is currently working with Rwandan diasporic communities living in Belgium, France and the UK. Originally trained as a literary studies scholar, Catherine now adopts a range of ethnographic methods in her research. These include: semi-structured interviews with community members, writers, performers, leaders of survivor organisations, and people working in the NGO, charity and education sectors; site visits; participant observation. Her current research project, ‘Genocide Commemoration in the Rwandan Diaspora’, investigates the impact of place and displacement on commemorative practices within diasporic communities, with a particular focus on cultural memory, trauma and narrative. The session focuses on how the researcher confronts and manages the challenging experiences s/he encounters while conducting fieldwork in a post-conflict context, paying particular attention to the importance of self-care as a researcher.

Key publications:

Catherine Gilbert, From Surviving to Living: Voice, Trauma and Witness in Rwandan Women’s Writing (Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2018)

Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro, On Commemoration: Global Reflections upon Remembering War (Peter Lang, 2020).

Recommended reading:

Jessee, Erin, “Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork”, Oral History Review 44.2 (2017), 322–347.

Markowitz, Ariana, “The Better to Break and Bleed With: Research, Violence, and Trauma”, Geopolitics 26.1 (2021), 94–117.


Working in the field: Photographic Methods

Seminar leaders: Tom Martin & Chandra Morrison

Wednesday 2 March 2022, 12-2pm.

Wednesday 9 March 2022, 12-2pm.

Booking link:

 Taught by a visual ethnographer and a photojournalist, this course offers an introduction to photography and fieldwork. Day 1 begins with a theoretical reflection on photography and the photographic image, before focusing on the researcher as photographer with a pragmatic discussion about how taking photos can function as a form of data collection and generation. Day 2 then considers approaches to participatory photography – where research participants pick up the camera to visualize and share their perspectives through a process of shared knowledge production – and presents some of the common practical and theoretical challenges to planning and facilitating a participatory photography project as part of your research. The session concludes with a group photo critique and a brief overview of working with photographs beyond the creation of the image, such as through methods of visual analysis or photo-elicitation in interviews.

This course runs over two afternoons and includes a short activity for students to complete between the sessions (please have a digital or smartphone camera available for this assignment). Blending practical exercises and group discussion, students will leave the course with a broad understanding of the possibilities of photographic practice within fieldwork and an appreciation for how to pursue these techniques within a research project.

A topic-specific reading list will be provided to participants in advance of the sessions.



Decolonising data for cultural research in the Global South  

Seminar leaders: Claire Griffiths & Monika Kukolova

Wednesday 27 April 2022, 2pm - 4pm

What role do data play in humanities research? Can numbers reflect social and cultural realities in a helpful way? This session explores how statistics can be used to provide insights into the cultural and social worlds of populations of the Global South.

In this seminar we are focusing on populations that for reasons usually of gender, class, place and race, are systematically excluded from the activities of the cultural elites. Having been largely denied the opportunities for education and autonomous knowledge acquisition enjoyed by elites, these populations are extensively denied access to the cultural products of the elites (novels, films, exhibitions, magazines, online cultural and educational events, etc.). We look at issues of representation of excluded groups in elite cultural production and consider the possibilities of misrepresentation. We discuss what representation can be found in data, and to what degree our statistical findings can address or even rectify cultural misrepresentations.

The population sample we use in the seminar to illustrate the power of data to speak with a ‘culturally’ are young women living in the most culturally exclusive areas of the French-speaking Global South.

We will provide access to a set of international and national datasets in the seminar. These data sets are often hard-to-find and harder to read. No familiarity with stats is required prior to the session. We use many visual tools including tailor-made infographics to illustrate how statistics translate into words and images. We will include hands-on exercises for those wishing to ‘have a go’ at data reading. By the end of the session you will be familiar with how the international community presents statistical information on specific populations and where to find data on any national or regional population,

Key documents for the session will be made available to participants in advance of the session and data will be accessible at


Conducting Fieldwork in and with Indigenous Communities

Seminar leaders: Kaya Davies Hayon and Fadma Aït Mous

Wednesday 1 June 2022, 2pm - 3.30pm                                                                                                        

What are the challenges and rewards of working in and with Indigenous communities? How can fieldwork researchers establish relationships and build trust with often hard-to-reach communities? What ethical, linguistic and cultural issues might arise, and how can these be navigated in ways that respect local traditions and customs? How can researchers ensure that the research outcomes and outputs are relevant to the Indigenous communities concerned? Drawing on theories, approaches and practices from a broad range of contexts, this session will introduce you to the main issues to consider when conducting fieldwork in and with Indigenous communities. It will be run by researchers with experience of working with Indigenous Amazigh women in rural Morocco and will offer insights from experience in the field.

Key Readings:

Chilisa, Bagele, Indigenous Research Methodologies, 2nd edition (Sage, 2019).

Exley, Beryl, Susan Whatman and Parlo Singh, ‘Postcolonial, decolonial research dilemmas: fieldwork in Australian Indigenous contexts’, Qualitative Research, vol. 18, no. 5 (2018), 526-37.

Stevens, Stan, ‘Fieldwork as Commitment’, Geographical Review, vol. 91, no.1/2 (2001), 66-73.

Past Sessions


Working with and Interviewing Writers, Artists and Filmmakers

Seminar leader: Joe Ford

Wednesday 3 November 2021, 2pm - 3.30pm

Session recordings:

Increasingly, those researching living writers, artists and filmmakers will want to work with and interview them as part of their research. This can be fruitful for research outputs, running public engagement events, and developing longer term collaborations with writers, artists and filmmakers. There are, however, several factors to consider when using interviews as part of the research process: How do writers, artists and filmmakers position themselves when giving interviews? Is the researcher’s critical capacity compromised by working with the subjects of their research? What are the practical and ethical considerations when approaching participants and what different types of interviews are there to choose from? Facilitated by researchers with experience working with and interviewing international writers, artists and filmmakers, this session will introduce you to the theory and practice of making contact, building relationships and conducting ‘elite’ semi-structured interviews with research participants who are writers, artists and/or filmmakers.

Recommended reading:

Anneleen Masschelein et al., ‘The Literary Interview: Toward a Poetics of a Hybrid Genre’Poetics Today 35.1-2 (2014): 1–49.

Jerome Boyd Maunsell, The literary interview as autobiography’European Journal of Life Writing 5 (2016): 23–42.

John Rodden, ‘The Literary Interview as Public Performance’, Culture and Society 50 (2013): 403–406.

Ethnography in Modern Languages and Cultures Research

Session leaders: Dr Naomi Wells and Dr Ainhoa Montoya

Session 1: Ethnography and Modern Languages and Cultures (Wednesday 19 January 2022, 2-3pm)

Session 2: Ethnographic Fieldwork (Wednesday 26 January 2022, 2-3pm)

Session recordings:

These sessions will introduce researchers to theories and methods associated with ethnography. The first session will focus on what ethnographic praxis can bring to languages and cultures research more broadly, particularly in terms of epistemology and researcher reflexivity. The second session will focus on ethnographic fieldwork methods and experiences, including different approaches to ethnographic research as well as practical advice and guidance.

Key reading:

Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J., 1997. Discipline and Practice: “The Field” as Site, Method, and Location in Anthropology. In Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J. Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Jordan, S.A., 2002. Ethnographic Encounters: The Processes of Cultural Translation. Language and Intercultural Communication 2, 96–110.

Marcus, G.E., 1995. Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, 95–117.

Wells, N., Forsdick, C., Bradley, J., Burdett, C., Burns, J., Demossier, M., de Zárate, M.H., Huc-Hepher, S., Jordan, S., Pitman, T., Wall, G., 2019. Ethnography and Modern Languages. Modern Languages Open 2019.

Last modified: Monday, 24 January 2022, 11:17 AM