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By Brinda Jegatheesan

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Stranger and friend: The way of an anthropologist. New York: W. W. Norton. Samkian, A. (2007). Constructing identities, perceiving lives: Armenian high school students’ perceptions of identity and education. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Los Angeles, CA: University of California. Smith, D. (1974). Women’s perspective as a radical critique of sociology. Sociological Inquiry, 44, 7–13. Villenas, S. (1996). The colonizer/colonized chicana ethnographer: Identity, marginalization, and co-optation in the field.

But there is a general tendency for contemporary fieldworkers to be more and more a ‘‘friend’’ and less and less a ‘‘stranger,’’ to recall Powdermaker’s book title, and thus as the face of the fieldworker becomes in contemporary experience less off-putting for research subjects, the subtle problems of inappropriate intrusiveness could be magnified, as Jegatheesan and Stake are claiming. That is also true for the most ‘‘friendly’’ of fieldworker-research subject relations that I can think of, that of collaborative action research conducted jointly by university-based researchers and research subjects who live in a certain community or who work in a certain institution.

Not mentioned was the development of inappropriate closeness between researcher and research subject. At least, that issue was not surfaced directly in IRB discussions. Where it did come up, indirectly, was under the heading of violations of the research ‘‘contract’’ that was established between the researcher and the subject in the informed consent process. There is a benign scenario for such violations and a toxic scenario. The benign story, in qualitative research, is the result of a study’s focus evolving during the course of the fieldwork.

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