Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
TWELVE YEARS LATER: AN ANALYSIS OF FIELD EXPERIENCE*

Rosalie Hankey Wax

FROM July, 1943, until May, 1945, I lived as a participant observer first in the Japanese Relocation Center at Gila, Arizona, and later in the Tule Lake Center for "disloyal" Japanese in northern California. Immediately on leaving the field, I wrote a long autobiographical saga describing my experiences in full detail.

In recent years, colleagues, distressed by the scarcity of detailed accounts of how an investigator works, have repeatedly urged me to publish this material. I pointed out that it was crude, unstructured, and that I could not possibly rewrite it without robbing it of its one literary virtue -- its conscientious and engaging naïveté. Finally, an astute colleague suggested that I present it in the form of excerpts with appended analyses. Here, then, is a shortened version of the first part of the document, which describes what I did and what was done to me during the first five months I spent in the Gila center. The analysis which follows was written in 1957.

I arrived in the Gila center in southern Arizona in July, 1943. The community at this time numbered approximately 12,000 people. The administration assigned me to a bedroom in the women staff workers' barracks. Since fraternization with evacuees was not encouraged by the administration, receiving Japanese visitors in this room was not good policy, and almost all interviews had, perforce, to take place in evacuees' living quarters or the administrative offices in which the evacuees worked.

I began work with one Issei informant who had been employed for the study1 of the center and I hoped to acquire additional informants through half a dozen letters of introduction to Japanese friends of the anthropologist who had previously worked in Gila.

____________________
*
A slightly altered version of a paper appearing in the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 63 ( 1957), pp. 133-42.
1
For a detailed description of the relocation and of the centers see Dorothy S. Thomas and Richard S. Nishimoto ( 1946).

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