According to the SAGE Handbook of Fieldwork, “fieldwork” refers to primary research that occurs “in the field,” the “field” being a setting that is outside the controlled settings of the library or laboratory (McCall 2006, 2). As a human geographer, my fieldwork involves participant-observation within the ethnographic tradition that requires the insertion of me (the researcher) into the subject matter of my work – the lives and experiences of Algerian immigrants and their descendants living in Paris, France. As a Western scholar doing research on a postcolonial population embedded within their former colonizer’s social systems, it is important for me to pay special attention to the historic role of geographers (and anthropologists) in the colonial project and respect the differential power relationships inherent in my work (e.g., Skelton 2001; Campbell et al. 2006). These challenges (among others) set fieldwork within a fundamentally political context and draw attention to the role of “human relationships in the field and the “humanness” of researchers” (Campbell et al. 2006, 98). Indeed, “being human” in the field has an impact on relationships with research subjects and influences the research process. To “be human” involves being fallible and requires a sensitivity and willingness for humility in reacting to experiences and information collected in the field.

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