Slight Change of Plans

After thinking it over for the last several days and speaking with my advisor, I’ve decided to come home a little early. Not much earlier than I initially planned, but early just the same. I’ve realized that much of what I’m doing here in Exeter between Phase I and Phase II of fieldwork can be done in Tampa at USF. This also gives me a chance to meet in person with my advisor at USF to assess where I am and what I still need to do.

Normally, anthropological research projects take 6 to 12 months or even up to two years. My project has always been on a much shorter timeline than most. This is due mostly to funding availability. Fieldwork is expensive, especially fieldwork done in the UK. This project wouldn’t be possible without the funding I got from the University of Exeter. There’s just no way I would have been able to afford it. That said, their generous funding only covers three months. So, I need to do as much as I can in a short amount of time.

In the four weeks I was in Glastonbury I conducted 14 formal interviews with 17 people (three couples). I was “in the field” in Glastonbury nearly every day that weather permitted, having informal conversations and collecting observational field notes and photographs. I spent hours on the High Street, inside the Abbey grounds, up on the Tor, etc. I also collected objects of interest…mostly paper items, like magazines, brochures, flyers, menus and leaflets. It was a productive four weeks and now I’m beginning the process of sifting through all of that and deciding what worked and what didn’t before doing it all over again at Tintagel.

I had to be flexible during the time in Glastonbury. Certain things did not go according to plan, like my proposed survey of visitors to the Abbey, which wasn’t approved. So I adapted and had as many informal conversations with visitors as possible without feeling like I was treading on the Abbey’s toes. When possible, I conducted free-listing activities with my interviewees to help me find those commons threads and themes among and between what right now seems like a very disjointed pile of data.

I’ll be returning to England at the beginning of June. The first two weeks my family will be here. My sister is graduating high school and her graduation gift was a trip to the UK. So I’m happy to be their tour guide. Then Phase II begins with fieldwork in Tintagel followed by more time here in Exeter in July. So I am stretching that funding as absolutely far as it will go. USF World and also Dr. Bird have been able to help me with my flight costs, but even so, doing work here is not cheap and I’m keenly aware of how every single pound is spent.

Part of me wishes I was doing more traditional fieldwork but part of me is also glad that I’m doing something a little different. I also need to remind myself that this is likely the first of many projects involving these sites so what I don’t accomplish during this first project could be saved for a later project (if I get a job in academia that is haha).

Anyway, so long story short, I’m coming home a little early and I can think of at least one person who will have absolutely no problem with that, and that is Michael. He’s been put through the ringer this semester at his job. He’s one of the hardest working people I know. Anyone who has ever been the significant other of a high school band director knows what I mean when I say the work never seems to be over. He’s been holding down the fort at home so I’m glad to come home a little early and help support him through the last few weeks of this absolutely wretched semester he’s been having.

For now, I’ll be taking advantage of what the University and the City of Exeter have to offer. Yesterday I walked about three miles, from the flat to campus (where I worked on stuff for four hours), campus to downtown and then back home. The other night I chatted with the man who owns the curry place I chose for takeaway and he asked me, “You’re American? What brings you to this rubbish country?” I laughed and told him I was here to do some research before going back home. He told me, “I love everything about America. It’s massive. I love the culture. The way you speak. I want to visit all 50 states some day.” “But with my face and my beard they might not let me in,” he joked. Ah yes… everywhere I go, people ask me either directly or indirectly about my feelings on 45. I’m usually happy to be perfectly honest with them. 🙂

I’m heading down to Cornwall this weekend and then to London early next week before I fly home. I’m hoping to take a trip to the National Archives to see what I can find relevant to my project. I like a good scavenger hunt. So there will probably be some blogging about those things coming soon. Probably next will be an entry about my visit to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Lots of interesting things happening there from a museological and anthropological perspective.
That’s all for now!

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