These environments present unique challenges to informed consent, confidentiality, risk-benefit analysis, researcher security, and Beneficence that require more nuanced guidelines and professional training. The four edited volumes reviewed here point the way, outlining the key determinants of ethical fieldwork in conflict environments and highlighting the crucial importance of employing them in both qualitative and quantitative fieldwork. Even with a good process, it is often difficult for an external researcher to understand and thus inform her prospective research participants of all of the potential risks and benefits of the research. May, Comparison of Motor Delays in Young Children With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to Those With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and With No Prenatal Alcohol Exposure , Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research , 30 , 12 , 2037-2045 , 2006. Attention to the personal security of researchers is important because researchers may be perceived to play or actually play a role in the ongoing conflict. For example, recent articles in Security Studies have examined issues of military culture, civil wars, and warlord politics, building on fieldwork in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Uganda ; ;.
She teaches courses on field research methods and on forced migration. Colin Carter, Jia Chen, Qian Li, Maya Deyssenroth, Neil C. . Yes, it is possible to alter existing field research guidelines and practices to address the exceptional circumstances faced by researchers in conflict environments. She has published more than seventy scholarly and policy books, articles and international reports in numerous languages. As soon as a neighbor would walk by, he would stop mid-sentence.
Perhaps similar models could apply to researchers conducting fieldwork in conflict environments. Exposure to actual situations in environments where violence is so palpable forces researchers to conceptualize security differently than they might otherwise. When I lived in Burundi during the height of its civil war 2000—2002 , I became habituated to a high level of risk and insecurity. Her most recent books include After the Taliban: Life and Security in Rural Afghanistan 2008, with Nojumi and Stites , and Gender, Conflict, and Peacekeeping 2005, with Raven-Roberts and Parpart. Lacey Gale is Visiting Fellow at the Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, and Research Associate in the Africana Studies Program at Bowdoin College. Few researchers emerge from conflict zones without scars, however invisible. While this seems obvious, my own fieldwork in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nepal has taught me that it takes active work and distance from the conflict environment to regain emotional health.
Fieldwork in conflict environments is also essential for understanding the lived experiences of security and insecurity, as emphasizes, and how experiences vary across gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, region, and religion. Consequently, an accurate risk assessment requires particular sensitivity to the culture of the potential participants , 19. Her most recent book, The Economic Life of Refugees, was published in 2005. Other top political science journals are also increasingly publishing scholarship on sub-national violence and insecurity that draws from extensive fieldwork in conflict environments, such as Lebanon and Burundi. If you cannot protect yourself, you cannot protect your data.
The literature on the ethics of field research is particularly silent on the questions that Smyth and Gallaher raise—the ethics of the study of groups that are themselves engaged in harming others—pointing to an important need for further research and writing in this area. While Nordstrom and Robben focus on the lived experience and ethnography of violence, they do not provide many practical solutions for improving the ethics of fieldwork in conflict environments. Eckstrand, Zhaohua Ding, Neil C. The stress and isolation experienced by researchers in conflict environments may also make it difficult for them to maintain the confidentiality of their sources ; , 386. Subsequently, I synthesize and discuss the main components of fieldwork ethics, which is the focus of this review. In conflict environments, it is rare to tape interviews , 381.
The Belmont Report and associated, subsequent legislative processes established the ethical principles that guide human subject research in the United States—including the requirement that Institutional Review Boards assess the ethics of all research on human subjects—and form the basis of many ethical research guidelines across the globe. The risks and benefits that should be assessed are those that pertain to the psychological, physical, legal, social, and economic situation of the research subject. Brown, Roger Bland, Egon Jonsson and Andrew J. She has conducted research and written on issues of gender and family, child fostering, youth leadership, durable solutions, host-refugee relationships, and transnational connections and remittance sending among refugee diasporas. This is evident in the chapters of these volumes.
I encourage readers of this article to read each of these books and use them for methods courses and fieldwork preparation. Finally, the moral and ethical obligation of researchers to give back to the subjects of their research seems to be even greater when those subjects are suffering from violence. Implications for Global Security Studies Historically, security studies has often overlooked the perspective of those affected by war. They are highly valuable resources for both senior and junior scholars. It may seem obvious to say so, but a war is a very dangerous place to be. Colin Carter and Joseph L. I realized that I needed physical and emotional distance from Burundi to be able to write up my research findings.
His answers were brief, but his eyes had much to say. The particular value of this volume is that it is authored by a more junior group of scholars, many of whom are close to contemporary methodological debates and able to understand the unique challenges faced by junior scholars. Maintaining confidentiality can also be challenging if the researcher witnesses or learns of human rights abuses or other violent acts when conducting interviews , 14. At the extreme, unethical fieldwork could lead to a backlash toward field research in conflict environments, preventing security studies scholars from gaining crucial knowledge about these important contexts. Unfortunately, measures to ensure researcher security are noticeably absent from standard ethical guidelines. They acknowledge the difficulty of maintaining objectivity in the midst of violence and conflict.
This is where training and supervision come in. The chapters contained in these four volumes help fill this gap in knowledge and serve as an invaluable training tool for future generations of students. The following paragraphs outline the particular challenges and dilemmas presented in the literature, and provide some indication as to how they may be addressed. This deep understanding of the context requires intense pre-fieldwork preparation as well as significant time in the country to build understanding and trust ; ;. Meintjes, Prenatal Alcohol Exposure is Associated with Regionally Thinner Cortex During the Preadolescent Period , Cerebral Cortex , 10.
In contrast to the significant body of literature on the ethics of research on human subjects, the literature on the ethics of research in conflict environments is relatively sparse. Methodological rigor ensures a high-quality product that is worthy of the time given by conflict-affected individuals and groups. Negotiating identity, space, and place among Iraqi women refugees in Jordan Isis Nusair; 4. But this is still inconclusive. Fieldwork also has the potential to dispel scholars of preconceived notions. The eleven excellent and thoughtful chapters assembled in this volume will help seasoned and novice researchers better navigate these challenges by providing detailed accounts of how other researchers have navigated them in variegated conflict-affected environments. At the most, it would provide crucial early support for researchers, helping prevent negative effects over the longer term.