Choosing to do fieldwork overseas, particularly in the Global South, is a challenge in itself. The researcher faces logistical complications, health and safety issues, cultural differences, language barriers, and much more. But permeating the entire fieldwork experience are a range of intermediating ethical issues. While many researchers seek to follow institutional and disciplinary guidelines on ethical research practice, the reality is that each situation is unique and the individual researcher must negotiate their own path through a variety of ethical challenges and dilemmas. This book was created to share such experiences, to serve not as a manual for ethical practice but rather as a place for reflection and mutual learning.
Since ethical issues face the researcher at every turn and cannot be compartmentalized into one part of the research process, this book puts them at the very center of the discussion and uses them as the lens with which to view different stages of fieldwork. The book covers four thematic areas: ethical challenges in the field; ethical dimensions of researcher identity; ethical issues relating to research methods; and ethical dilemmas of engagement with a variety of actors. This volume also provides fresh insights by drawing on the experiences of research students rather than those of established academics. The contributors describe research conducted for their master’s degrees and doctorates, offering honest and self-critical reflections on how they negotiated ethical challenges and dilemmas.
The chapters cover fieldwork carried out in countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America on a broad sweep of development-related topics. This book should have wide appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates, and early-career researchers working under the broad umbrella of development studies. Although focused on fieldwork in the Global South, the discussions and reflections are relevant to field research in many other countries and contexts.
Table of Contents
1. Towards a new view of fieldwork ethics: Integrated, individual and shared Part 1. Ethical Challenges in the Field 2. When does ‘fieldwork’ begin? Negotiating pre-field ethical challenges 3. ‘I always carried a machete when travelling on the bus’: Ethical considerations when conducting research in dangerous places 4. Controversial, corrupt and illegal: Researching difficult topics in the Global South 5. Finding fluency in the field: Ethical challenges of conducting research in another language 6. Whose voice? Ethics and dynamics of working with interpreters and research assistants 7. Doing it together: Ethical dimensions of accompanied fieldwork Part 2. Ethical Dimensions of Researcher Identity 8. Revealing and concealing: Ethical dilemmas of manoeuvring identity in the field 9. First impressions count: Identity, access and the ethical dilemmas of being a ‘native’ or a ‘foreign’ researcher 10. Flirting with boundaries: Ethical dilemmas of performing gender and sexuality in the field 11. Family connections: Ethical implications of involving relatives in field research Part 3. Ethical Issues Relating to Research Methods 12. Fellow traveller or viper in the nest? Negotiating ethics in ethnographic research 13. Unsettling the ethical interviewer:Emotions, personality, ethics and the interview 14. Whose knowledge, whose benefit? Ethical dilemmas of participatory mapping 15. Seeing both sides: Ethical challenges of conducting gender-sensitive fieldwork Part 4. Ethical Dilemmas of Engagement 16. ‘You can be jailed here by even me talking to you’: Dilemmas and difficulties relating to informed consent, confidentiality and anonymity 17. Giving the vulnerable a voice: Ethical considerations when conducting research with children and young people 18. Power play: Ethical dilemmas of dealing with local officials and politicians 19. Exercising my rights: Ethical choices and moral predicaments in accessing government documents 20. Restaurants and Renqing: Ethical challenges of conducting interviews with business people over dinner 21. Can you please all of the people some of the time? Ethical challenges in making research relevant to academia, policy and practice So what kind of student are you?’ The ethics of ‘giving back’ to research participants 23. Afterword
Jenny Lunn manages a project promoting public engagement in geography at the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) in London.