When I told my friends that I'd be doing fieldwork – for a year! - as part of my DPhil, they inevitably asked where I was going. Would it be Africa? Asia? Did I have my pith helmet ready? When I told them I would be spending most of my time in London reactions ranged from disappointment to ridicule. 'Why wouldn't you go somewhere exotic!??', they asked. Repeatedly.Doing fieldwork on (nearly) your home turf has its advantages, however. Sometimes the things we're most familiar with are those we most take for granted, and the way law and policy are made in the UK is a good example. I had an opportunity to get behind the legislation and the headlines and find out what has driven changing ideas about human trafficking in the UK over the past fifteen years.
There was another advantage to staying close to home – logistics. The nature of my fieldwork meant I was talking to lots of different people from different organisations – and the more I learned the more people I found I wanted to talk to. Being able to hop on a train or pick up the phone at short notice meant that I could be flexible and reactive as I gradually built up a picture of what was going on.
It just goes to prove you can do fieldwork anywhere (although if you do pick London, don't expect to come back with a tan).