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“I'm afraid”: the cultural challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar

“I'm afraid”: the cultural challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar The purpose of this paper is to highlight the cultural issues and difficulties encountered when conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar and to discuss the measures to overcome such challenges. It aims to provide insight for foreign researchers seeking to collect rich, meaningful and reliable data while establishing fruitful relationship with Burmese participants.Design/methodology/approachThis paper draws on results from a research on cross-cultural dispute resolution in a Chinese-invested enterprise in Myanmar. The authors reflect on their fieldwork experience to present examples of cultural challenges, as well as the strategies used to deal with those challenges.FindingsThis paper finds that when conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar, researchers should take into consideration “anade” – an important Burmese social convention, perceived power distance between researchers and Burmese participants, roles of cross-cultural interpreters and possibility of cultural stereotypes, especially in a multicultural site. Measures need to be taken to adjust fieldwork arrangement and interview style, reduce perceived power distance and address the impact of prevalent stereotypes. Furthermore, researchers should properly conduct training and discussion sessions with Burmese interpreters to ensure they provide accurate yet culturally informed interpretation.Originality/valueThe cultural challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar remain under-explored. This paper addresses the knowledge gap and discusses various Myanmar-specific cultural issues that await researchers. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research Journal Emerald Publishing

“I'm afraid”: the cultural challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar

Qualitative Research Journal , Volume 21 (2): 11 – Jul 30, 2020

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1443-9883
DOI
10.1108/qrj-07-2020-0074
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the cultural issues and difficulties encountered when conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar and to discuss the measures to overcome such challenges. It aims to provide insight for foreign researchers seeking to collect rich, meaningful and reliable data while establishing fruitful relationship with Burmese participants.Design/methodology/approachThis paper draws on results from a research on cross-cultural dispute resolution in a Chinese-invested enterprise in Myanmar. The authors reflect on their fieldwork experience to present examples of cultural challenges, as well as the strategies used to deal with those challenges.FindingsThis paper finds that when conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar, researchers should take into consideration “anade” – an important Burmese social convention, perceived power distance between researchers and Burmese participants, roles of cross-cultural interpreters and possibility of cultural stereotypes, especially in a multicultural site. Measures need to be taken to adjust fieldwork arrangement and interview style, reduce perceived power distance and address the impact of prevalent stereotypes. Furthermore, researchers should properly conduct training and discussion sessions with Burmese interpreters to ensure they provide accurate yet culturally informed interpretation.Originality/valueThe cultural challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Myanmar remain under-explored. This paper addresses the knowledge gap and discusses various Myanmar-specific cultural issues that await researchers.

Journal

Qualitative Research JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 30, 2020

Keywords: Culture; Ethnographic fieldwork; Myanmar; Interview; Anade; Interpreter

References