Methods in a Time of Crisis

Published date01 December 2020
Date01 December 2020
Methods in a Time of Crisis
Divya Vaid1
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus—has had, and continues to have,
a tremendous impact on social, political and economic life. From the perspective of research, the
pandemic has brought in new risks to the field which may affect research across all kinds of fields and
topics, even as it poses urgent new research questions. This special section on ‘Notes of Method’ will
explore the impact of this pandemic on the ethnographic method.
Ethnography is usually understood as involving fieldwork, often through face to face interaction as
well as in experiencing social and cultural life personally. The pandemic clearly changes how
ethnographers may now approach and experience fieldwork. How can ethnographers respond to this new
transformation of the field due to a pandemic? Both notes in this section respond to the broader question
of how we can evolve new methods, modify existing ones, or respond to this transformation of the field.
As anthropologists, both authors in this section deliberate on what they believe may be the impact of
the pandemic on ethnographic work, including some of the newer challenges that may be emerging. The
note by Thomas Chambers reflects on the ‘field’ itself and the possibilities of using communication
technologies in bridging the gaps due to COVID-19. He reflects on his own work on craft workers and
migrants in the north of India and in the Gulf. Nicholas Long discusses the benefits of using online
surveys while maintaining an ethnographic lens and explores the possibilities for research opened up by
surveys he conducted across the UK and New Zealand on social life during the pandemic.
Notes on Method
Studies in Indian Politics
8(2) 289, 2020
© 2020 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2321023020963749
1 Centre for the Study of Social Systems, JNU, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Divya Vaid, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, JNU, New Delhi 110067, India.

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