I've been scrambling to finalize the project I'm consulting on. As with all projects, I suppose, there's all sorts of 25th hour requests, or changes in expectations at the very last minute. The medical director keeps trying to check in with me, to make sure that the design of the study is "useful" to me for my own work. I obviously can't tell her that it's not going to be useful at all, except in the financial gains department. I really want to say, as I'm designing the interview guide (somewhat lazily, I admit), that I don't think providers are actually all that interesting. Yes, they're important from the implementation side of vaccinations -- they're the medium through which kids get their shots -- but from an anthropological perspective, they tend to be a bit dull. It's gotten old to write about instituational medical practices, and interventions are usually quite old school, steeped in hundreds of years of attitudes about the human body and medical authority (cf...duh, Foucault...Donzelot...Canguillhem...etc.).
I had initially interviewed providers for my own dissertation fieldwork, but it just wasn't compelling. Providers generally tell you that they follow guidelines and criteria. It takes a long time to get to know them and to really follow them around in order to capture the humanness of their practice, and this is just not something that public health methods usually makes time for. Further, most of the people who are overseeing the project I'm working on are trained as doctors, and a few of them even continue to practice. I have to tread awfully lightly in the kinds of comments and observations I am making about providers, given that the head researchers (or should I call them the committee of dissent?) are all members of the very community we're trying to study!
Hmmm, I hadn't thought, before, about how important that piece of information actually is to my own criticisms of the experience of designing this project...there's a little meta here, where my fieldwork is as much the execution of the project as watching the process of trying to execute the project in the first place. In fact, the reason I turned to writing on the blog is that I was getting frustrated with the interview guide and the criticisms I've received. I wanted to try to note the ways in which I feel extremely constrained in being critical of the way the project is going -- since I am dependent on it as a financial support mechanism, but my own intellectual interest has totally been killed by the process of designing this. Sad, but true.