Field research in the contexts of conflicts, disasters, severe poverty, and marginalization entails being continually exposed to the daily life struggles and suffering of our research participants. Fieldwork in such environments involves emotional experiences on the part of respondents, but at the same time, such occurrences also impact the researchers. We discuss three instances in this piece: 1) how the emotions of the research participants impact qualitative research; 2) how researchers are affected by emotions during the practice; and 3) the strategies in handling such situations.
(Silent) Voices is a collective of researchers from the field of development and (post-)conflict studies working in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe who strive for an open dialogue on the practice of transnational collaboration in academic field research.
How do we engage in transnational research collaborations in academic field research? Foreign researchers often rely on local researchers for their fieldwork, and they generally play a vital role in facilitating and shaping research projects, especially in unstable or conflict-affected settings. Yet, there is still a relative silence on the role and position of research collaborators in academic knowledge production. How do research partnerships take shape, and what are the grounds for engagement? What ethical and practical challenges do we faced and which issues stay unaddressed? And most importantly, how can we make visible and recognize the important contributions of local researchers to academic knowledge production? The idea of the ‘lone’ field researcher is in many cases a myth. Let’s try to be honest about the research collaborations we engage in and think about how to properly organize and value them.
In October 2018, researchers from the Department of Conflict and Development Studies and the Department of History at Ghent University convened a two-day workshop, entitled (Silent) Voices from the Field: Exploring New Avenues for Collaborative Research. Researchers based in Ghent invited their research partners from Peru, Kazakhstan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines to have a profound reflection on these issues. The result was (Silent) Voices, a new research collective committed to exploring new and better ways of working together.
On this website, you will find some outputs from the 2018 workshop as well as announcements of new initiatives. But foremost, this website is meant as a space for conversation and discussion, for establishing new networks across borders and to learn from different experiences with collaborations in fieldwork.
Contact us if you are interested in contributing a blog post on your experiences with research collaboration, or express your interest in joining the conversation by signing the manifesto!
New blog posts will be trickling in regularly so watch this space!
The Bukavu Series online exhibition explores the power dynamics between researchers from the Global North and the Global South. The Series is a visual extension of the Silent Voices Blog: Bukavu Series.
In a refugee camp, carrying out research is most important. As refugee residents, we feel there is much to be improved about the conditions in which we have to live, and research is one of the avenues through which we can indirectly raise our voice to attempt to change things.