Publication Details

Alexander, K. & Spennemann, D. (2006). The legitimacy of my ethnographic gaze: context, methodology and insights from in the field, Lao PDR. ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2006 (pp. 1-17). ACSPRI: Australia.


Rural development in the uplands of Lao Peoples' Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) presents many challenges for farmers and their communities. Swidden cultivation has long been the traditional farming system providing subsistence livelihoods for generations. The Lao government has based development policy on the reduction in swidden cultivation of upland rice and this is having a profound effect on food security, biodiversity, land degradation, and productivity. The research gives voice to community opinions and concerns about the impact of government policy and the influence of the emerging market economy on their capacity to modify their farming practices. The practical implications of this research dictated a multi-informant approach, and an integrated mixed methodological research design. A descriptive ethnographic approach has been used to describe reflection of field experiences. This paper suggests that there are several stories, those constructed using the rigorous methodological approach and ethnographical texts that describe the interstitial space, the less tangible experiences emerging from reflection further seeding understanding.