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This article explores field researchers’ perceptions of field site security and causes of fieldwork disruption. We seek to quantify what phenomena are decisive in perceiving a field site insecure and to gauge whether researchers find rural or urban areas to be more secure from organized criminal violence. We also identify the conditions that best predict scholars’ willingness to abandon research in any given region. To do so, we use a regression analysis of the results of a survey administered to anthropologists working in Mexico and Central America. The article reveals that anthropologists view urban areas as being less secure and that they are most likely to consider a field site insecure and abandon field research when manifestations of organized violence such as the discovery of clandestine mass graves and the gruesome displays of victims become too obvious. Our survey results are intended to supply applied anthropologists with information that may be helpful when planning their own safety precautions and to spur discussion of the effects that the violence has on development practice.


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Human Organization



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Sociology Commons



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