From the Field is Border Criminologies ‘mini-post’ series featuring news from researchers currently in the field. In the fifth instalment, Border Criminologies researcher Ines Hasselberg provides another update on her current fieldwork.

After just over two months visiting HMP Huntercombe, I have now four days left of fieldwork and I am feeling the pressure of time. Conducting fieldwork in places of confinement surely has its particularities and one of them, or so I found, is how quickly data can be gathered. Yet, two months and a half just sound like too short a period of fieldwork (please note my disciplinary background is anthropology!) and I wonder whether during this time my engagement achieved enough depth.

In this last stage of fieldwork, I can no longer just go to prison. I now go to prison everyday with very particular goals set in mind: get more staff perspectives, organise focus groups, observe more work and education activities, talk to religious leaders, etc. etc. Mostly, this means being more focused but also not being so available to spend time with the prisoners. It means spending less time on the wings just hanging around and chatting to people – the research activity I came to enjoy the most. This is where I feel engaged with the men and their experiences, where I get the connection that makes me feel slightly less anxious about the short duration of my visits to Huntercombe. But now it is wrap-up time, it’s ticking-boxes time and I hate it. Have I done everything I set out to do? Do I have all the data I set out to collect? Or at least do I have enough data to carry on with data analysis? And how do I say my farewells to the people who have come to be such a big part of my daily life in the past weeks? How do I make sense of the emotional connections that were established? It is wrap-up time, it is farewell time and I hate it.

See also other mini-posts from the series From the Field:

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