Linguists have always gathered data for analysis in many different ways. In current times, a major method of doing linguistics – in person work in speech communities – has been made impossible, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has brought other methods to the fore, and with it their advantages and disadvantages. While work in person can never be replaced by remote ‘fieldwork’, in this panel we discuss some of the ways in which connections with communities and language work can be continued.
We propose a 2 hour panel of 4 panelists (listed below). Each speaker will give a talk of approximately 20 minutes with about 5 minutes for questions. The session will wrap up with a brief conclusion. The four panelists will discuss different ways of doing fieldwork when traveling directly to endangered language communities (or any travel at all) is impossible: using digital technology to collaborate (Cruz); working with research assistants who live in the community (Singer); using social media (Morey); and using archival materials (Bowern). Each panelist will describe and illustrate their work. While the methods discussed in these talks are broadly applicable, each panelist focuses on a particular region: Oaxaca, particularly Chatino (Mexico; Cruz); North Australia, particularly Mawng (Singer); Assam and Myanmar (Morey), and rural and urban Australian Aboriginal communities (Bowern).
Given the scale of linguistic research affected by the current travel restrictions, which may well last well into 2021, it is timely to reflect on what types of fieldwork (and other work with linguistic data) are effective, what ethical considerations arise, what resources are available, and how to support indigenous communities linguistically at this time.