Guest post by Luigi Gariglio, Lecturer in Visual Studies and Sociology of Communication at the University of Turin, and Academic Visitor at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. In this post, Luigi responds to last week’s From the Field entry by Sarah Turnbull on transitioning from fieldwork to academic analysis and writing.
Dear Sarah: I’m happy you’re at this stage. But how can you transition ‘out’ from the field? Or do you just mean physically, with your body? I’m sure your life has been changed forever by these amazing experiences, and at least part of your empathic and emotionally charged experiences will be floating around the world with the migrants you were privileged to meet and who were privileged to meet you as well. I’m sure that your sensibilities will help you to decipher and translate into a complex text (with images too, I hope) what is already, at least to a certain extent, your embodied understanding in progress at this stage. I remember some of the emotions that were simply so evident and pouring out from you when you were coming back from the field at the Centre for Criminology or when you were going ‘out there;’ it was simply impossible even to have a small chat with you… you were still in the field, or already there.
Photo-elicitation with key images I produced in the second part of this ethnography has been a crucial tool to help me to find my way ‘out.’ Some of the more important (and contested) images, include, among others, a psychiatric constraint bed, a seclusion cell, a portrait of a just assaulted prison officer with ice blocks on his face, and a infirmary with a psychiatrist, a patients and eight prison officers. These images, along with others and all the ethnographic informal interviews after crucial critical events, helped to guide my gaze and my body in the field. I’m not quite sure whether I captured the reality or whether I’m naively trying to build some certainty that will help me to think I’ll reach the end, but I’m quite aware that the field, theory, methods, and bodies and spaces in the field, all meet in one way or another from the very beginning of the research… This is only my partial little story; a story of a sociologist trying to look for a partial little comprehension of a very complex, multifaceted, and almost ungraspable reality. ‒Luigi
Border Criminologies will soon be launching an online forum for researchers to discuss issues such as these and many others. Check back and/or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on this exciting initiative!
See also other recent From the Field mini-posts:
- From the Field: Transitioning ‘Out’ of Fieldwork and into the ‘Data’ by Sarah Turnbull
- From the Field: Psychological Operations and the Policing of Migrants in the Netherlands by Paul Mutsaers
- From the Field: Children in the Court: Deportation Proceedings for the Child Migrants of the Northern Triangle by Deniz Daser
- From the Field: Migration Paths and ‘Gender Tricks’ by Raquel Matos
- From the Field: Vicarious Trauma by Border Criminologies
How to cite this blog post (Harvard style):
Gariglio L (2014) From the Field: Back and Forth in a Special Hospital. Available at:/ (Accessed [date]).