On an ethic of not going there
Fieldwork – “going there” – is the presumed norm and baseline of geographical research. In this commentary, I propose a framework for challenging the normative framing of fieldwork in geography and other fields (including those beyond academia): an ethic of not going there. I argue that fieldwork, rather than a neutral rite of passage, is deeply entwined with some of the most entrenched issues in contemporary geography and research more broadly. Building on a range of prior critiques and using the lens of “access”, I propose some ways for critiquing the presumptions inherent in geographical imaginaries of “fieldwork”. This ethical framework argues that doing geographical fieldwork should have to be justified to the same extent as not doing fieldwork is expected to be justified. I envision an ethic of not (always) going there as an alternative way of thinking about research (and researchers) within and beyond geography.