PNG trip… more questions

I have just returned from my second trip to Papua New Guinea visiting a PhD student working on the PNG mining case study that is part of our Marsden-funded research on Corporate Community Development. The aim of this visit, and my recent trip to Fiji was to  get an overview of the research findings to date, and to allow me to gain an overview of two case study sites, exploring aspects of the research question and themes which intersect. This is an interesting challenge — tourism and mining are such different industries and the commonalities are easily obscured by the obvious and highly visible differences.

Our research house in the village - home for two weeks.

Our research house in the village – home for two weeks.

One of the most immediate differences for me personally was in the living arrangements. While in Fiji we lived simply but in Western comfort, the trip to PNG was a challenging one. The student I was visiting is based in a village outside the mine affected zone, and ‘home’ is a two roomed village house with no running water or electricity and a pit toilet. It is also a bit of a fishbowl – with our activities visible to people in the surrounding hamlet and passers-by on the road. Although not easy, it was an important (if short and somewhat superficial) insight into village life and an interesting community-level perspective on mine activities and impacts. During my two-week stay we were able to complete some important interviews, to observe a some development-related meetings and to visit several surrounding villages. These experiences and the discussions we had over the data already collected added to the questions about inclusion/exclusion, inequality and the meaning of development, that I had left Fiji with, and reinforced my conviction that there significant intersections in the case studies of mining and tourism. As I prepare for my next trips (conferences and meetings in the UK and NZ) I will continue to puzzle over these.



This blog post comes to you from Nadi, in sunny Fiji. For me, the warmth and sunshine is particularly welcome after a kiwi winter, although it is not an easy time for Fijians who are facing a drought.

I am in Fiji for 10 days visiting Emma, a PhD student working on the Fiji tourism case study that is part of our Marsden-funded research on Corporate Community Development. I’m here to see what she is doing, to get an overview of her findings to date, and to work with her on some data collection. In the past week we have visited two villages to bring a sevusevu (gifts of kava to the chiefs, seeking permission from them to talk to people in the villages about the research); got well-sunburned during an unexpected interview on the beach at Denerau; sat, talked and had kava with a local family; been to a school fundraiser here in Nadi, and visited another rural school to talk to the headmaster … and that was just the ‘community’ side. We’ve also had a look inside two hotels and talked to staff involved in CSR, and had a meeting with the General Manager of a hotel to present preliminary findings. Today the research task is following a group of tourists on a village and school tour. Another way of ‘reversing the lens’!DSC02111

The whole experience has been incredibly interesting. I’ve learned a lot about Fiji and Fijian culture, gained some insights into the impact of the tourism industry here, and developed a whole new set of questions about uneven development, inequality and the meaning of development. There are huge differences, and not only the obvious ones between tourists and locals. There are significant differences within Fiji related to lease arrangements, employment and education opportunities, and access and so on. These are issues we will be considering further in this research, but they also link in to the material I’ve been teaching in the Development and Inequality course. It has certainly given me a lot of food for thought, and plenty to consider as I prepare for my next trip, back to PNG.

The Fieldwork Book!

fieldwork bookOver the past two years I have been working with Regina Scheyvens on updating the book Development Fieldwork: A Practical Guide, first as a research assistant (digging up new references and interesting stories, which was a lot of fun), then as a chapter author. I have contributed to three chapters in the revised edition, including a new chapter on researching using archives, texts and virtual data (with Gerard Prinsen), a revision of the chapter on entering the field, and the revision of the introduction. The original version of the book was a huge help for me when planning my Master’s and PhD fieldwork, and (with some bias) I would highly recommend this new version to anyone planning to undertake development-related or overseas fieldwork.

The book has now been published, and can be purchased from Sage or your usual online retailer.

From the publisher:

This book provides an invaluable guide to undertaking development fieldwork in both the developing world and in western contexts. It takes you through all the key stages in development research and covers:

  • Research design and the roles of quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • Research using archival, textual and virtual data, along with using the internet ethically.
  • Practical as well as personal issues, including funding, permissions, motivation and attitude.
  • Culture shock, ethical considerations and working with marginalized, vulnerable or privileged groups, from indigenous peoples through to elites and corporations.
  • How to write up your findings.

Sensitive, engaging and accessible in tone, the text is rich in learning features; from boxed examples to bullet-pointed summaries and questions for reflection. Development Fieldwork is the perfect companion for students engaged in research across development studies, geography, social anthropology or public policy.

note taking

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.