Accepted paper:

Methodological challenges in times of crisis


Shenah Abdullah (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on methodological challenges confronting both researcher and research collaborators during times of political and economic crisis in Iraqi-Kurdistan. It pays attention to the dilemmas, sensitivities and the difficulties facing anthropologists and their research collaborators in the field.

Paper long abstract:

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which has been the center stage for IS attacks this summer, and continuing today, has received worldwide attention focusing on the role of violence and the plight of its citizens as victims of yet another atrocity. Meanwhile, ordinary people and anthropologists conducting research in the Middle East during these precarious times are confronted with unexplored personal challenges. These challenges call for the inclusion of new critical insight from these regions concerning the nature of fieldwork into the discipline of anthropology. Drawing from (Bourgois 2010, Graeber 2013) this paper provides new alternative insights concerning fieldwork challenges and collaborations on the ground while working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. What can we learn from recent ethnographic fieldwork challenges coming out of regions undergoing unprecedented violent and economic transformations? While doing research in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in times of rapid economic and political crisis, researchers and research collaborators are developing new coping mechanisms during times of uncertainty. At a time when violence and ethno-nationalist discourses dominate the narrative available about this region, this paper focuses on the conundrums resulting from the multiple crisis and their effects on everyday relations. The current economically and politically driven crises have created new anxieties and techniques of disciplining, which in turn have influenced mutual relation on the ground. These hard times impel us to become more actively engaged with our collaborators and address the hardships, dilemmas, sensitivities and the everyday struggles faced by anthropologists and their collaborators in Iraqi-Kurdistan.

panel P09
Hospitality, dependence and mutuality: negotiating positionality and methodologies in the Middle East