1st Edition

Identity, Agency and Fieldwork Methodologies in Risky Environments

Edited By Monique Marks, Julten Abdelhalim Copyright 2020
    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    170 Pages
    by Routledge

    Bringing together a unique set of narratives from social scientists who have been situated in risky environments, this volume discusses the moral and ethical dilemmas of doing fieldwork in environments that are characterised by insecurity.

    These narratives are situated in the Global South, and the majority of the authors are themselves from the Global South, bringing both authenticity and originality to the scholarship in this book. Coming from the Global South can both facilitate and complicate navigating the complexity of doing research in places characterised by precariousness. The authors demonstrate how the ‘morality of the moment’ and indigenous sensibility is often more pertinent than formal ethical considerations as stipulated by universities and other institutions. The authors are refreshingly honest about their own identity dilemmas, their choices to exit the field prematurely, and the raw emotions that emerged in the process of doing fieldwork in these settings.

    This book is likely to be instructive to young researchers entering into fields that are risky, often with little instruction or supervision prior to doing so. It is also an excellent resource for more seasoned researchers who might have had comparable experiences and are keen to reflect on such research journeys. It will be an invaluable resource for teaching qualitative research across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of Contemporary Social Science.

    Foreword: Coping with Risks in Field Research

    David Canter

    Introduction: identity, jeopardy and moral dilemmas in conducting research in ‘risky’ environments

    Monique Marks and Julten Abdelhalim

    1. Field, ethics and self: negotiating methodology in a Hindu right wing camp

    Aastha Tyagi

    2. ‘Don’t say "research"’: reducing bidirectional risk in Kibera slum

    E. Ashley Wilson

    3. Environmentalist protection: feminist methodology and participant risk for research with Chinese NGOs

    Angela Leggett

    4. Ethical and methodological responses to risks in fieldwork with deaf Ugandans

    Goedele A. M. De Clerck and Sam Lutalo-Kiingi

    5. ‘We are your brothers, we will know where you are at all times’: risk, violence and positionality in Karachi

    Sarwat Viqar

    6. Accommodating fieldwork to irreconcilable equations of citizenship, authoritarianism, poverty and fear in Egypt

    Julten Abdelhalim

    7.Where the dust settles: fieldwork, subjectivity and materiality in Cairo

    Aya Nassar

    8. Risky closeness and distance in two fieldwork sites in Brazil

    Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos

    9. Rumours, fears and solidarity in fieldwork in times of political turmoil on the verge of war in Southern Yemen

    Anne-Linda Amira Augustin


    Monique Marks is Head of the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology, South Africa. Initially trained as a social worker, she writes predominantly in the field of criminology. She has published widely in the areas of youth social movements, ethnographic research methods, police labour relations, police organisational change and street level drug use. Her research is mostly ethnographic and takes place in spaces that are considered compromising or unsafe. She is also the founder of the KwaZulu-Natal Harm Reduction Advocacy Group.

    Julten Abdelhalim is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute for Asian and African Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Her research deals with revivalist Islamic movements and gender issues, citizenship studies, and youth in India and the Arab World. She is the author of Indian Muslims and Citizenship: Spaces for jihād in everyday life (2015).