Fieldwork Lessons for Empirical Researchers: Multidisciplinary Insights
12-13 May 2023
University of Geneva (Uni Mail), M4060
Meeting ID: 640 6747 0060
Nataliya Borys, University of Fribourg, email@example.com
Dr Lea Sgier, University of Geneva, Lea.Sgier@unige.ch
Historians, contemporary historians in particular, often rely on fieldwork, in the form of observational methods (participant and non participant observation) and conversational methods (biographic interviews, semi-structured interviews, etc.). They have not necessarily been trained in these methods though, contrary to researchers in anthropology or sociology for instance. And even researchers who have been trained in fieldwork methodology often face many obstacles and challenges, no matter how well prepared they are.
This workshop thematises some of the challenges that “fieldworkers” typically are confronted with, and does so by deliberately “thinking outside the box”: While we rely on standard social science expertise and literature with insights from anthropologists, sociologists or political scientists, we also look beyond : to researchers who have engaged with particularly challenging fields (such as conflict areas); and to other professionals who are in daily close contact with human beings, often on delicate issues: mental health specialists (such as psychiatrists catering to survivors of political violence); investigative journalists; or translators (mediating between researchers and respondents; or between doctors and patients) – to name a few.
Over two days, this doctoral workshop aims to raise and discuss a number of issues that are of potential relevance to historians and qualitative social scientists while going beyond textbook advice: how to navigate the typical obstacles of fieldwork (such as: access, navigating power relations and ethical conundrums in the field, protecting oneself and the participants, etc.); how to deal with non-standard situations (such as having to rely on translators; moving around dangerous areas); how to engage with vulnerable respondents (such as victims of violence or stigmatised groups); how to set up ethical research, etc.
12 May 2023, Friday:
Nataliya Borys, University of Fribourg
Introduction. Why should we talk about fieldwork lessons? What kinds of lessons can be learnt from different disciplines?
Lea Sgier, University of Geneva
Ethics, power and methodology in fieldwork-based research: lessons learned in two decades of research, graduate teaching and supervision, and research consultancy
11: 30 -12:00
Presentation of PhD students research topics and expectations. Feedback from experts
Ueli Staeger, University of Geneva
Fieldwork at Global South international organizations: Positionality, interviews, and „deep hanging out“
Branwen Spector, ethnographer, UCL
Going Ethnographic: Fieldwork Lessons for Historians about reflexivity, gender, race, class and other forms of subjective identity.
Celestin Mutuyimana, Psychologist, University of Zurich
How to face cultural diversity in research and how to manage difficult interviews (people with mental problems)? Lessons learnt from psychology.
Ielyzaveta Cleguer, Psychologist, HUG, Program Migrants
Working with war migrants: psychologist’s perspective. Answering the participants’ questions.
17: 45- 18:15
13 May 2023, Saturday:
Discussion with PhD students about their research topics. Feedback from experts.
Peter Larsen, University of Geneva
“Other histories? 3 anthropological lessons grounded from ethnography in Vietnam”
Eda Elif Tibet, Antropologist, University of Bern
Building Alliances through Affective Multimodalities for Empirical Researchers
Maryna Dubrovina, Ukrainian filmmaker
Interviewing the Ukrainian Righteous (who saved the Jews during the Second World war) for the TV series. What went wrong in the interviews? How does the filmmaker cover such a topic? (screening the short extract with English subtitles). Discussion with Dubrovina (in Ukrainian with interpretation).
11 :45-12 :15
Marta Havryshko, historian, URIS fellow, Basel University
Interviewing the witnesses of the Holocaust in Ukraine. Gender dimensions of war and genocide.
12 :15-12 :45
Nataliya Borys, University of Fribourg
Lost in Translation. Does language matter? Lessons learnt from the interpreter.
General discussion with PhD students. Conclusions.