THL Toolbox > Places & Geography > Ethnography on Places > Researching Villages In The Field
Contributor(s): David Germano
Names of village: Get the name in all relevant languages, as well as all variant names. Make sure you get all spellings (from people and from signs) and ask how to understand these spellings - new, old, etc. Also ask for explanation of what these names mean, and how the names might relate to the village's history.
Brief description: while in the field, write a 1-3 page brief description of the village while it is all fresh in your mind.
Administrative location: As relevant, gather information about those administrative units as well.
Cultural location: find out the traditional ways of talking about the village's location within some broader region, like "ba sum", or ba sum within "kong po", etc.
- Cultural location:
Linguistic: what dialect of Tibetan do they speak, and if multiple dialects, get percentages.
Population: ask lhat population of village is. Also ask questions about mix, like how many Chinese, how many Tibetans, how many Hor-pas, etc.
- Population mix:
Economics: how do most people make money and support themselves. Get as much detail as possible. • Main sources of income:
Religion: what is religious affiliation of village? What associated or nearby religious institutions are there? • Centers and sects:
Festivals: ask details about important local festivals that are practiced.
Marriage: find out about marriage patterns, how marriages are performed, any signs of polyandry, etc.
Family: find out typical family size. • Standard family size:
Notes: anything that is relevant or interesting.
Ask questions about the history of the village. How it was administered in "old society", relation to tribal histories and groups, etc. Special traditions
Ask what special traditions they have of art, music, etc.
This is the most difficult part. But it is extremely helpful if a map can be made for general purposes, and also so that the pictures can be specified as being from this part of the village or that part of the village.
The easiest way to do this is take a picture from the hill side or roof top that you can see the whole village, and then in the computer annotate it with names - show to a village resident and ask questions to get that information.
See "Mapping" guide document, which includes how to use for pictures.
Do video-taped or audio-taped interviews with people about history of village, about their feelings about village situation, etc.
Do video pans of the village to show what it looks like. Do videotapes of special performances like music, but also everyday stuff like someone harvesting crops, or selling mushrooms, or spinning wool.
Do systematic photography of the village including people, things, buildings and site. Try to climb up on local hillside and take pictures of the whole village so the "big view" can be seen, and how the village sits in its environment.
Do 360 degree pictures in key points of the village.