Doing research in conflict areas: being sensitive to conflict and managing risks
KFPE Annual Conference
VenueSwiss National Science Foundation, Wildhainweg 21, Bern
Researchers working in conflict-affected areas need to be aware that the political and security situation in their study area may change very quickly. Should the situation deteriorate, they and their local partners may suddenly find themselves at risk, and their project’s continuation might be in jeopardy.
Which security guidelines should researchers follow in such situations? How can their security be ensured if they are working in remote areas? What can be done to enable project continuation under worsened security conditions?
Such questions emphasise the potential negative impacts on research projects of a shifting context. But research projects themselves can negatively impact the local conditions. Singling out of interviewees can contribute to polarisation within a community, and publication of politically sensitive research results can provoke repressive measures against local partners and their organisations. To prevent such adverse effects, research partners must adopt a conflict-sensitive approach to their work. This means being aware of a project’s potential negative impacts on the local situation, while seeking to enhance potential positive impacts. Researchers’ ability to recognise that they are part of a conflict situation is decisive.
Both aspects – security and sensitivity – will be discussed by representatives from different disciplines and illustrated with cases from various geographical contexts. The examples will guide reflection on how to conduct research in situations of conflict.