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Using Vignettes to Elicit Sensitive Testimony: Researching Piracy in East Africa

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By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases
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Abstract

My 4-year doctoral research was primarily a qualitative study focused on maritime piracy in East Africa and its impact on seafarers. Early in my research, a preliminary review of available literature painted a worrying maritime security trend in the Horn of Africa because in the preceding years, the number and frequency of pirate attacks on ships along the East African coast was on a steady rise. Between 2000 and 2011, an increase in number and frequency of pirate attacks in the expanse of water between the Gulf of Aden and the East African coast became a matter of great concern to the shipping industry. At the time the study commenced, available literature and counter-piracy interventions focused on the ships as targets of piracy, while the seafarers as the primary pirate targets did not get a fair share of attention, given the kidnap-for-ransom mode of piracy prevalent in the Gulf of Aden at this time. This case study describes my experience in developing and using vignettes for the first time during my PhD fieldwork to collect the views of a sample of seafarers on piracy and how they ranked it in relation to other risks they faced in their work.

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