Ethnographic Field School in Tonga

Every two years I take a small group of students to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in the Kingdom of Tonga. Whether to gain experience in ethnographic methods or to simply experience the Tongan community, students gain real-world experience living abroad as a field anthropologist. While each field season may have a different research focus, every trip will include introduce students to the culture, history and language of Tonga. The next field school will take place from mid-May to mid-June 2023, with specific dates announced in January.

The students will sign up for 3 credit hours of University of Utah anthropology course 4960/6960 with Dr. Adrian Bell. For four weeks the student will gain experience with a variety of methods, including pile sorts, semi-structured interviews, classification tasks, and observation. The director will guide research activities and review progress documented in a field journal assigned to the student ethnographer. Outreach activities and community engagement will also be prioritized.

Excursions on the islands will include key cultural and ecological spaces. Snorkeling or scuba diving (if open-water certified) will be conducted under the guidance of trained instructors/guides.

The special fee tied to Anth 5960/6960 of $1640 will cover lodging, food, transportation within Tonga, entrance fees, and international health insurance.  This fee does *not* include airfare to/from Tonga, passport, and personal expenses (souvenirs, for example).

Preparation coursesThough not required, I highly recommend applicants take my course on statistics (Anth 5230) and my cultural course on the Pacific Islands (Anth 3151) prior to the field school.

If you would like to apply to the field school for summer 2023, fill out and send me the application form linked here. Applications are due Jan 31, 2023. 


Undergraduate research grants are available for U students through UROP, see details here. The student will need to work with the director starting Jan. 2023 to build a research proposal.

There are also field school scholarships for anthropology majors, see details here.

If you have questions about the field school, or concerns about funding, please send me an email at