What is it like to do research in a marginalized community in the shadows of Ecuador’s largest oil refinery? On today’s episode we talk with Maricarmen Hernandez, assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. Maricarmen tells us about her fieldwork with a heavily contaminated community in the Ecuadorian coastal city of Esmeraldas. She tells us how she gained access to the community and reflects on the relationships she developed while in the field. Many of these relationships were with women who were on the frontlines of political struggles over health effects from contamination and the formalization of land titles. Maricarmen reflects on why women took leading roles in these struggles, and how her own gender influenced her research. She also talks about how she uses photography as part of her fieldwork, and finally explains what happened when security concerns forced her to leave her field site.
Learn more about Ethnographic Marginalia here.
Alex Diamond is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Texas, Austin.