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Stuck With My Body at Qalandiya Checkpoint: Reflections Upon Conducting Fieldwork in an Uncertain Field Site

By: Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case draws upon a research project, ConflictIT, which investigates technologies in conflict areas. The project focuses specifically on entrepreneurship and innovation in Palestine. We conducted five field trips (between 2014 and 2017) and visited different startups, incubators, and accelerators located in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. We conducted 35 interviews with Palestinian co-founders, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists to better understand the rising startup scene in Palestine. We wanted to investigate the potentialities that technology can offer in such a highly politically contested region, with its long colonial history and military occupation. An unavoidable topic is the challenges that are encountered when trying to establish an independent startup market in an occupied territory where geographic mobility, economic growth, and digital flows are fully controlled by Israeli politics. This case provides a reflexive account, giving a taste of doing fieldwork in such a challenging field site. It is intended to remind us of not only the stories that are told by our informants but also the story that the field site itself uncovers to us through the scenery, the landscape, and the embodied experience of the researcher throughout her journey to the field site. It is further intended to promote scrutinizing critically our own research experiences, investigating the behind-the-scene processes of constructing the research process and the field site.

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