Gender, Fieldwork, Asia

I’m in the midst of assembling my ‘ethnographic research methods’ syllabus, and one way that it is structured is that, in addition to the normal reading we are also reading a short piece in which people describe their field experiences. That way, students will have a chance to get a sense of what can happen during fieldwork. In the course of cruising around for examples, I came across an interesting piece by Sharon Chalmers entitled “My Queer Career: Coming Out As A ‘Researcher’ In Japan”: The piece charts out the history of her involvement in Japan as a fieldsite as the country and herself move through various phases of awareness/acceptance/engagement with queer identities, only to have the fieldwork go through a crisis as Chalmers stops being someone who shares a lesbian identity with her informants and starts being someone who studies them.

Ultimately, I don’t think I’ll teach it because I already have too much sex on the syllabus, but I thought I’d mention it here since it’s open access — in fact “Intersections”:, the journal it appeared in, is all open access, and it looks like it has some nice stuff in it if you study gender and sexuality in the Asia-Pacific (I don’t, so I’m just guessing). But I just thought I’d share.


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at