Research in Times of Turmoil: Ethics, Morals and practical Challenges of Fieldwork in Libya and beyond
Thomas Hüsken (University of Bayreuth)
Paper short abstract:
The deterioration of the security situation in the trans-Saharan space has become a significant challenge for fieldwork that involves methodological, epistemological as well as ethical questions.
Paper long abstract:
The deterioration of the security situation in the trans-Saharan space has become a significant challenge for fieldwork that involves methodological, epistemological as well as ethical questions. The paper aims to tackle these issues and discuss how to deal with research in the context of danger zones. Threat, experiences of violence or victimization, and generalized insecurity (caused by governments, politico-religious movements and conflict parties) have massively changed the character of fieldwork in Libya. Participant observation is developing into involuntary participation in local political arenas. Researchers become vulnerable actors in turbulent political environments who often have to take sides to gain security. This involves political and normative choices that may compromise academic neutrality. Many researchers have experienced total exclusion from their research sites by ongoing violent conflicts or by government policies (no visa or bans). In this case anthropology is about to become a discipline without people and places. The paper will discuss the moral and ethical dimension of these developments and it will also look at emerging methodological practices such as: research on neutral grounds, ethnography through social networks, research based on fixers and the knowledge of local experts, and embedded or engaged anthropology.
Political orders in the making: cases from inside and across the Sahara [CRG ABORNE]