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Conducting Fieldwork in Security-Sensitive Environments

Case
By: Nadine Ansorg Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

When studying violence and its consequences, it is necessary to conduct fieldwork in affected countries and communicate with the people on the ground. However, traveling and working within conflict and post-conflict countries comes with a particular set of challenges. This contribution discusses potential challenges that might arise when planning for and conducting fieldwork in a security-sensitive environment. It discusses unexpected instances that can occur before or during your fieldwork and what to do in a case of emergency. This article also stresses the importance of ethical responsibility before, during, and after fieldwork. Additional components of such responsibilities include respect toward the local culture, rules, and traditions as well as questions of race and power. Consistent awareness of such issues also stresses the significance of repeatedly reflecting on questions of who you as a researcher are, where you come from, how you are situated in the world, and what drives you. Successively, ethical responsibility does not end after your fieldwork but continues throughout the publication and dissemination of work. The article also discusses how to ensure confidentiality of interviews and privacy of respondents during publication and dissemination. Ultimately, this is helpful for students who are preparing for fieldwork in security-sensitive environments and encourages further reflection regarding necessary questions for such research endeavors.

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