The Researcher and the Researched: Navigating the Challenges of Research in Conflict-Affected Environments

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Ethical concerns associated with social science research are heightened
in conflict-affected environments, due to increased insecurity and the
vulnerability of many research participants. This article considers some
of the main challenges faced by researchers in conflict-affected environments and how they can be addressed, focusing in particular on
ethical and security challenges. It also considers other challenges, which
are often overlooked, such as the epistemological and methodological
challenges of acquiring knowledge in conflict-affected environments,
where research participants may be from different cultures, may speak
different languages, and may be deeply traumatized and distrustful of
others. In such places, research participants may employ techniques to
assuage or discourage the researcher, including projecting borrowed narratives or remaining silent. This article argues that navigating security and
ethical challenges, attending to issues of power, and remaining genuinely
self-reflective can help fulfill the optimal potential of research in conflictaffected environments, which is to challenge narratives that perpetuate
conflict, harm, and insecurity and to contribute to a better understanding
and, thus, response to the challenges of conflict and peacebuilding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-88
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Studies Review
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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