Thanks for visiting my blog. This summer, my blog will discuss my experiences doing fieldwork in Dar es Salaam. I will also include experiences outside of fieldwork, including trips I might take around the country, and some scattered thoughts about Tanzania, migration, and China-Africa relations. Disclaimer: since I'm only a first-year Phd, I'm still getting my feet wet about the topics of migration and China-Africa relations, but find them very fascinating overall.
Some initial thoughts: Dar es Salaam is usually ignored by tourists to Tanzania, since there is so much to see in Tanzania outside of Dar (Zanzibar, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti safari, and much more). While Dar is certainly very gritty in many areas, its surrounding beaches are very beautiful, and is generally a laid-back and comfortable place to live. This is not to say you can completely let your guard down - petty crime is really common, and I would never walk outside alone at night (which is also true of Durham, NC). Expats seems to enjoy it here, since there are specialty grocery stores, shopping centers, and restaurants that cater towards the foreign population. While you can find pretty much everything here that you would need, it seems our host family brings back M&Ms every time they come back from the US!
I was a bit surprised that many of the roads in the expat area are unpaved: I guess I expected the area to look more like expat areas in the cities of China, India, or Southeast Asia. Most expats live in apartment buildings, compounds, or larger villas that have armed guards and electric fences. I wonder if this need to be fenced inside with armed guards is a self-fulfilling prophecy, enhancing a lack of trust towards the locals, and reinforcing crime. It is a bit of a vicious cycle.
Anyway, we are starting fieldwork on Monday, June 1st - should be an interesting experience. I am currently brushing up on my Chinese, gaining more fluency in the survey questions, and reading a book called The Dragon's Gift, which is teaching me a lot about China's history with Africa (and Tanzania as well).