The Politics of Fieldwork
Research in an American Concentration Camp
In addressing these questions, author Lane Hirabayashi examines the case of the late Dr. Tamie Tsuchiyama. At the time an advanced doctoral student in anthropology, Tsuchiyama was hired in 1942 to conduct ethnographic fieldwork for the University of California at Berkeley's Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study. Drawing from personal letters, ethnographic fieldnotes, reports, interviews, and other archival sources, The Politics of Fieldwork describes Tsuchiyama's experiences as a researcher at Poston, Arizona—a.k.a. the Colorado River Relocation Center. The book relates the daily life, fieldwork methodology, and politics of the residents and researchers at the Poston camp, as well as providing insight into the pressures that led to Tsuchiyama's ultimate resignation, in protest, from the JERS project in 1945.
Facilitating the critical analysis of Tsuchiyama's role in the JERS research are questions regarding the relationships between Japanese American research and the nature of "colonial science" that merit discussion in contemporary field research. A multidisciplinary synthesis of anthropological, historical, and ethnic studies perspectives, The Politics of Fieldwork is rich with lessons about the ethics and politics of ethnographic fieldwork.
"Illustrat[es] how the inequalities of race, gender and age between an investigator and assistants can be concealed in the name of science. . . . Hirabayashi brings a moral voice to how research should be conducted in academia-free of exploitation." —Amerasia Journal
"Slices to the core of current debates in social science and challenges readers to reflect upon the politics of their academic endeavors. . . . compelling and insightful." —Journal of Asian American Studies