For experienced and inexperienced researchers and practitioners alike, this engaging book opens up new perspectives on conducting fieldwork in the Global South. Following an inter–disciplinary and inter-generational approach, Understanding Global Development brings into dialogue reflections on fieldwork experiences by leading scholars along with accounts from early career researchers. Contributions are organised around six key issues:  • Meaningful participation in fieldwork  • Working in dangerous environments  • Gendered experiences of fieldwork  • Researching elites  • Conducting fieldwork with marginalised people  • Fieldwork in development practice. The experience–led discussion of each of the topics conveys a sense of what it actually feels like to be out in the field and provides readers with useful insights and practical advice. A relational framework highlights issues relating to power, identity and ethics in development fieldwork, and encourages reflection on how researcher engagement with the field shapes our understanding of global development.

Democracy of the Ground? Encountering Elite Domination During Fieldwork

Ashish Shah


In the conversation above, Professor Robert Chambers rightly notes that in field research, individuals and groups of local elites often dominate the research process, silencing some voices while amplifying others. This is because researchers entering a village for the first time often negotiate access and space with the local elite. For example, village leaders may connect a researcher to other ‘more familiar’ elites. Faced with time constraints, many researchers, if they are not careful, find themselves overly reliant on elites to identify research participants, and develop what, at face-value, appears to be a representative sample of a given village. Indeed, as Professor Chambers notes: ‘with any research, if you enter the field only briefly, ...

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