Confusion, Seduction, Failure: Emotions as Reflexive Knowledge in Conflict Settings

Jenny Elizabeth Hedstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This article highlights the influence of emotions, affective experiences, and rumors on the construction of knowledge within research on conflict and in international politics, as well as within the research process itself. Drawing from fieldwork undertaken in a conflict zone in Myanmar, it suggests that academic knowledge production practices are informed both by the (violent) context in which research is undertaken and by the demands of the discipline to produce a scientifically accepted piece of research. It proposes that attention to emotions may facilitate strong objectivity (Harding 1992) by foregrounding the relationship between research participants, researchers, and the broader research (institutional and immediate) contexts. It introduces the term "rumors-as-affect" as a means to discuss how affective atmospheres or events in the research environments inform research. Three interview situations are presented, in which different emotional reactions are highlighted, focusing on "confusion and guilt"; "seduction"; and finally, "failure and ignorance." These events illustrate how, in recognizing the role emotions and affective atmospheres play in research on conflict and in international politics (cf. Crawford 2014; Hutchison and Bleiker 2014; Ross 2013), researchers may begin to do justice to our representations of what is encountered in the field and how knowledge is constructed within the discipline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-677
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • affect
  • conflict
  • emotions
  • Kachin
  • methodology
  • Myanmar

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