chapter  17
The Advantages of Research in Familiar Locales, Viewed from the Perspectives of Researcher and Researched: Refl ections on Ethnographic Fieldwork in Mozambique
Pages 17

In traditional ethnography the mission of ethnographers is to write accounts based on their intense participation in some initially unfamiliar social world (Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw, 1995). It is assumed that there is a potential bias in researching familiar sites or phenomena and that, in such cases, researchers may ‘trade unrefl ectingly on what they already ‘know’’ (Edwards and Furlong, 1985: 22). However, this view has been challenged in postmodern ethnography (Marcus, 1995, 1997) and ethnographically-oriented approaches to discourse (Rampton, 2007) which underscore the advantages of researching familiar sites. For example, Marcus (1998) suggests that researching a familiar locale helps to achieve the depth that conventional anthropology always hoped for from long stays in the fi eld. Drawing on his experience as a researcher and thesis supervisor, Marcus (1998) argues that this is mainly due to the fact that researchers investigating a familiar locale can use their control of language as well as their life experiences as assets to achieve such depth. However, Marcus warns that in order to make good use of such resources the researcher needs to be refl exive.