It is clear from the experiences discussed by authors in this volume that all too often researchers are left to their own innate sensibilities, talents, and skills to identify and resolve a range of ethical, social, and political challenges that inevitably arise in the ﬁeld. Challenges and dilemmas that, if not recognized and managed eﬀectively, particularly in the diﬃcult, unstable, and dangerous contexts explored in this book, can at the minimum threaten the validity of one’s data and at the maximum threaten the personal security and well-being of the respondents, their families, the researcher, and members of her or his research team. Of course, researchers can and do look to published codes of ethics and behaviour from professional organizations for guidance and can and do seek direction from home Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) for solutions, but that advice almost always falls short in helping the researcher successfully navigate unanticipated ethical, social, and political challenges in the ﬁeld. This is because the codes and the boards have narrow mandates to protect the researched from the researcher (e.g. guarantees of free consent, guarantees of anonymity, and so forth) and oﬀer little toward guidance for the researcher beyond that.1 The richness of experiences documented here in this volume shows there is a lot more to navigate beyond guarantees of free consent and so forth. What then, if anything, can be done to prepare the researcher to success-
fully resolve unanticipated dilemmas and challenges in the ﬁeld and particularly in diﬃcult and dangerous ﬁelds? Can the decisions, tactics, and strategies recorded by the talented group of researchers in this volume help in demystifying ﬁeld research? Can their experiences be systematically characterized and, in this way, help to guide others in successfully navigating their own unanticipated challenges in the ﬁeld? There is little doubt that many in the social sciences would argue that each researcher is unique and that each research context has its own unique challenges and, therefore, any attempts at systematizing such disparate experiences as documented here is based on a false premise and is a fruitless waste of time. I disagree. I begin by characterizing the decisions from a group of the authors as illustrative of
successful (and not so successful) management of the dramaturgical in the ﬁeld. And from there I develop other characterizations that, taken together, help to systematically show how these authors’ experiences help in demystifying ﬁeldwork.