Sarah Turner (editor) 2013: Red Stamps and Gold Stars:  Fieldwork Dilemmas in Upland Socialist Asia. UBC Press, Vancouver.


Red Stamps and Gold Stars brings together geographers, anthropologists and historians to explore all the messiness, compromise, and ethical dilemmas that underscore fieldwork in upland socialist Asia. These challenges can range from how to gain research access to politically sensitive border regions, to helping informants-turned-friends access appropriate health care, to reflections on how to best represent ethnic minority voices.


“Part how-to manual, part confessional ethnography, this excellent volume explores the everyday politics of knowledge production while doing fieldwork among upland minority groups under the powerful gaze of the socialist state. Insightful, at times surprising, and bracingly honest, this is critical reflexivity at its best – a must-read for anyone contemplating research in these areas.”

TIM OAKES, co-editor of Faiths on Display: Religion, Tourism, and the Chinese State


“This book offers a valuable service to future scholars and a critically important opportunity to reflect on the ethical and practical impact of non-native field research in China, Vietnam, and Laos. The authors pay particular attention to ethnic minorities, typically among the most marginalized populations in the region.”

MARY BETH MILLS, author of Thai Women in the Global Labor Force: Consuming Desires, Contested Selves


Table of Contents:

Part 1: Heading to the Field

 1 Dilemmas and Detours: Fieldwork with Ethnic Minorities in Upland Southwest China, Vietnam, and Laos / Sarah Turner

 2 Comrades of Minority Policy in China, Vietnam, and Laos / Jean Michaud


Part 2: Red Stamps and Gold Stars

 3 Blunders in the Field: An Ethnographic Situation Among the Drung People in Southwest China / Stéphane Gros

 4 Gifts and Debts: The Morality of Fieldwork in the Wa Lands on the China-Burma Frontier / Magnus Fiskesjö

 5 The Fun and Games of Taking Children to the Field in Guizhou, China / Candice Cornet

 6 Socialist Rules and Postwar Politics: Reflections on Nationality and Fieldwork among the Yao in Northern Vietnam / Jennifer Sowerwine

 7 Doing Fieldwork and Making Friends in Upland Northern Vietnam: Entanglements of the Professional, Personal, and Political / Christine Bonnin

 8 The Backstage of Ethnography as Ethnography of the State: Coping with Officials in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic / Pierre Petit

 9 Marginality in the Margins: Serendipity, Gatekeepers, and Gendered Positionalities in Fieldwork among the Khmu in Northern Laos / Karen McAllister

 10 Field Research on the Margins of China and Thailand / Janet C. Sturgeon

 11 Easier in Exile? Comparative Observations on Doing Research among Tibetans in Lhasa and Dharamsala / Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy

 12 The Silenced Research Assistant Speaks Her Mind / Sarah Turner


Part 3: Post-Fieldwork

 13 Between Engagement and Abuse: Reflections on the "Field" of Anthropology and the Power of Ethnography / Oscar Salemink

 14 Textual Desert -- Emotional Oasis: An Unconventional Confessional Dialogue on Field Experience / Stevan Harrell and Li Xingxing

 15 Red Stamps and Gold Stars on the Margins / Sarah Turner


Chapter One online at:


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