This article analyzes the problems of field research as a process of production of knowledge, based on the author’s personal field experience in Russia, 2006-2007. Fieldwork is presented not only as a process of discovery, but also as a form of personal learning. The aim of this study is to show that the subjective experience of interactions between the natural environment, local communities and the research subject as a unity of mind, body, senses and emotions can lead to the production of unbiased and reliable knowledge. The paper addresses issues such as ‘entering the field’ and ‘immersion’ in the new environment as a process of learning about the culture under study; local social networks and friendship in the field as a way of integrating into the local environment and a means of carrying out research; the particularities of the ethnographic techniques employed; episodes of ‘testing’ the credibility of the researcher by local people and the specific symbolic practices of adoption in religious communities; the possibilities of “participant observation” and the limitations of the method; learning through personal experience, emotions in the field (cultural shock, empathy and emotions as a factor with epistemological value); and the personal transformation of the researcher.
Keywords: fieldwork, Russia, Orthodox Christianity, ethnographic methods, production of knowledge, emotions