Contrast is an element of anthropology that I have confronted only recently. My research began with work "in the field;" approaching strangers, establishing connections, and conducting interviews across small tables. I was armed with a voice recorder, note pad, pen, and the occasional cup of coffee. This "field work" came to its inevitable end, bringing me to an entirely different, isolated space, where social interaction was replaced by the constant pattering of my fingers across computer keys.
As I drum along in my endless Microsoft Word document, I am faced with the challenge of transforming each interview, each sample of complex subcultures, into semi-quantifiable, interpretable data. Individuals cannot really be reduced to scientific data, which means my true task is to discover what can be learned from these individuals, and allow the lesson to take the form of data. A careful, considerate narrative will be key. This week, I am working on that key. This week, my Word document becomes even longer.
My work will conclude with another reminder of anthropology's contrasting nature, as I present my results – the careful narrative – to people. The research will finish as it started, taking the form of a social process. For this week, the tapping of these keys is sufficient company.