Control, confusion, and failure: Fieldwork in areas of violent conflict and limited state authority

Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Nerve V. Macaspac

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This chapter draws on the authors’ experiences of conducting fieldwork with a peace community in the Philippines and with former guerrilla fighters in Colombia, to unpack some of the major challenges of doing fieldwork with conflict-affected communities and (former) armed actors in areas of violent conflict and limited state authority. Guided by the notions of control, confusion, and failure, it discusses requirements of interviews and ethnographic observation in such contexts, raises ethical questions, and explores emotional issues relating to the role of empathy, seduction, and friendship. Examples from the authors’ own fieldwork experiences are used to illustrate core points. The chapter equips its readers with central questions fieldworkers in areas of violent conflict and limited state authority need to be prepared to answer in order to conduct ethical research that safeguards themselves, their collaborators, the research participants, and their wider communities, while also shedding light on the inevitable messiness of social-scientific fieldwork in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFieldwork Experiences in Criminology and Security Studies
EditorsAntonio M. Díaz Fernández, Cristina Del-Real, Lorena Molnar
PublisherSpringer Nature
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2023

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