Researching and Transcribing Traumatic Experiences: A Qualitative Approach to Studying Survivors of Genocide Online


Studying the traumatic experiences of survivors of genocide is a challenging task when researching online sources. The aim of this case study of online research is to illustrate to students the need to avoid diminishing the importance of emotive testimonies provided by people who witnessed such political violence. This task, of explicitly discussing the emotional and perceptual challenges of studying genocide, requires students to acknowledge that they will become unsettled by the content that they study. The case here explains how I needed to develop both my empathy and precision of language to effectively engage with the traumatic descriptions contained within the research data.

The reasons why students should be prepared to experience unsettling reactions derive from the traumatic nature of the information involved. How I processed the data relied on my ability to develop poignancy and reverence for the people concerned. I was able to construct a useful online qualitative research method only after I realized my need to listen to the voices of individual survivors. This case study explains my experiences of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of available data that relayed traumatic experiences and my journey to being able to transcribe multiple recorded interviews.

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