Posted by: J.V. | August 4, 2010

Resisting “The Field” (or why I love Chisasibi)

In my first post, I mentioned in passing that I was trying to train myself to not refer to my host community as “the field” as is common in anthropological practice. I’m not 100% sure why but it makes me feel icky. It’s as though it reduces the people that I will be living and working with, and whose lives I’m trying to get involved in, to subjects of research. It’s hard to come up with an alternative term but I kind of like “host community.” It’s not *completely* accurate. I mean, I invited myself, they didn’t say: “Hey, come do research here!”

Another aspect of it is my own relationship to the place. I fell in love with Chisasibi the first time I was here and when I’m not here, I think about the town in the same way that someone might think about a loved one who is far about. There is no logical reason for this connection but is there ever a logical reason to love a person or place? I don’t think so.

All I know is that when I was here, at the tender and confused age of 25, I felt a sense of peace and meaning. I felt a spiritual connection. I felt that connection everywhere around here but especially out in the bush when a friend of mine took me to his family’s hunting grounds. And when I went back to that specific piece of land in 2007, I felt that I had left a piece of my soul behind that first time. And while I thought that I should take it back to feel more complete, I decided at the last minute to leave a little piece behind so that, in a way, a part of me would always be there.

All that to say that I feel an ongoing connection with this part of the world that is quite inexplicable but very satisfying. And the main difference between my first “fieldwork” experience here in 98 and this one is that, the first time, I was running away from the south and this time, I ran to the north.



  1. Sounds like you “went native” first, and then found the place to be native in! A novel approach.

  2. Ha! Well, I’m not sure how the actual residents from here would see that but point taken ; )

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