“Embedded Research” in Collaborative Fieldwork

Sascha Klotzbücher


In the era of the “scientific development concept” of the Hu/Wen leadership, agents of knowledge transfer that eventually translates into policy comprise not only think tanks for policy formulation in central-state institutions but also researchers in universities supporting policy implementation at local levels. Well-established patterns of local scientific advisory frame collaborative fieldwork in Sino-Western scientific projects on local governance. However, there is a gap between our active integration into these patterns during fieldwork and our ability to clarify them as resources, reconstruct the selection of research topics and contextualize the research results within our academic discourses. Analysing site-finding, data collection, aggregation and dissemination of a research project with Chinese public health researchers on rural health service reform in Xinjiang between 2005 and 2010, I argue that fieldwork and the role performed as a scientific advisor for the political principal is the localized and daily interface where politics crosses into science.

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