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The Ten Commandments of Field Study

  1. Live according to the customs and rules which are important to the people among which you are doing research. This means respect for their rituals and their sacred periods of time, expressed in your manner of clothing, as well as during mealtimes and drinking. – Si vivis Romae Romano vivito morae!

  2. Allow yourself to be generous and unprejudiced in order to be able to recognise values and to judge according to principles which are not your own. It is an obstacle if you suspect nastiness and cunning behind everything.

  3. Never speak negatively about your hosts and people with whom you have shared a pint of beer, a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

  4. Make yourself familiar with the history and the social conditions of the culture you are interested in. For this purpose first visit their graveyards, markets, pubs, churches or similar places.

  5. Get a good idea of the geography of the squares and houses in which life is going on and where you want to do research. Walk around in the relevant area and climb up a church spire or a hill.

  6. In order to distinguish yourself from the usual travellers carry your experience home and report with as little prejudice as possible. It is important, therefore, to have a research diary (next to other records) in which you enter each day's  thoughts, your problems and joys of research, but also annoying experiences. This will stimulate honest reflections about yourself and your research, but also self-criticism.

  7. Afford yourself the leisure of the "ero-epic (free) dialogue" (see explanation at bottom of page). That means people may not be regarded as mere informants. They are to be talked to in a way to make them feel respected. Introduce yourself as a human being and do not impose upon others. This is the only way to take down good records of dialogues and observations.

  8. Make an effort to judge the person you are talking to. Otherwise it could happen that you are fooled or consciously lied to.

  9. Don't act as though you were a missionary priest or a social worker. You are not in a position to "educate" the apparent "savages". You are not a judge but merely a witness.

  10. You must be in good shape in order to be able to feel comfortable in a field, in a stuffy pub, in church, in posh restaurants, in the forest, in the stable, on a dusty road or anywhere else. For this purpose you should have the ability to eat, drink or sleep at any given time.

To commandment no.7: The term "ero-epic dialogue" was developed by me in accordance with Homers "Odyssey". In the "Odyssey" one always asks and the other speaks, each of the two are included in the dialogue. – at the same time they drink and jest. I don't like the term interview, as it stems from the language of journalism. As a pupil of the monastery school of "Kremsmünster" I studied classical Greek for six long years. I would like to mention that I define myself as a true philologist in the best sense of the word. In other words I found love (philos – friend, lover) for classical Greek, without necessarily having been a good pupil. Homer's writings, for example, gave me such pleasure then and now, that I used them as a source. After all, from the "Odyssey", a cultural scientist can learn a lot about every day life in the ancient world.In the word "ero-epic" you will find the following classical Greek words: erotan – to ask and eipon (epos) to talk, inform (narrative).