Assessing Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Anthropological Research Methods


anthropological research
virtual ethnography
remote methods
digital methods
sociocultural anthropology

How to Cite

Dempsey, S., Holloway, B., Chambers, K., Hecker, S., Draper, M., Gallant, J., … Joly, T. (2021). Assessing Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Anthropological Research Methods: An Undergraduate Research Project. Pathways, 2(1), 1–13.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there is a need to understand how the pandemic has influ­enced anthropological research. This paper presents the results of a research project examining these changes and the challenges anthropologists have faced in carrying out their research methods during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the University of Northern British Columbia in the Fall semester of 2020, undergraduate students led this project and conducted five virtual, semi-structured interviews with socio-cultural anthropologists across Canada, from a variety of career stages and with diverse research approaches. Interview participants described virtual research methods involving a heavy reliance on video conferencing and digitally available resources, benefits and challenges of remote and digital ethnography, changes to immersion and the spatial-temporal aspects of communication, and outcomes of adopting new technologies. The pandemic affected these anthropologists to varying degrees depending on the location of their field site and their career stage. Despite adaptations and challenges, interview participants also offered hopeful commentary on potential long-term changes in the discipline as the pandemic forces anthropologists to rethink the ways in which we conduct our work.


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Copyright (c) 2021 Sean Dempsey, Tom Haiworonsky, Bailey Holloway, Kyra Chambers, Shannon Hecker, Ming Draper, Julia Gallant, Jag Kang, Trevor Lamb, Marlee Stewart, Tara Joly