Moving Across the Field: Researcher Mobilities and Immobilities During International Fieldwork

Olivia Mason*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter I explore the entangled relationship between researcher mobility and immobility while undertaking international fieldwork by making two arguments. First, I contend that the movements of researchers are increasingly being challenged in many locations as researchers are denied access and have their mobilities curtailed. Second, I argue that researcher mobilities must also be considered in heterogenous and nuanced ways and brought into conversation with research in critical mobility studies. As a result, researchers need to consider more carefully the means by which certain movements and certain moving human bodies have been privileged. Researchers must think more critically about their own entangled mobilities in the process of doing research and how this in turn shapes the field site.

This chapter draws upon my own fieldwork experiences in Jordan and Israel-Palestine. I reflect on my experience of being denied access to Israel-Palestine. I explore how this had intimate and emotional impacts on myself and how this impacted me as a postgraduate researcher embarking on my first sustained period of overseas fieldwork. I reflect on the move of my field site to Jordan and explore the tactics researchers are using to research sites they cannot access, illustrating the fluidity of the field in the context of geopolitical conflict. I then explore how I developed a new project, centered around mobility and walking as method in Jordan, and how this related to the immobility I experienced. In summation this chapter discusses access to the field site, embodied emotions while researching, and navigating my own and others’ mobility and immobility during international fieldwork.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNavigating the Field
Subtitle of host publicationPostgraduate Experiences in Social Research
EditorsMildred Oiza Ajebon, Yim Ming Connie Kwong, Diego Astorga de Ita
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783030681135
ISBN (Print)9783030681128
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

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