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Accepted Presentation:

Harassment in the field: The gendered, racial and sexual risks of fieldwork and reproduction of inequality through institutional discourse  
Lise Zurné (Erasmus University) Janne Heederik (Radboud University)

Presentation short abstract:

70% Of scientists experience sexual intimidation in fieldwork. Silence around this violence normalizes white male discourses and structural inequalities at universities. We explore institutional dynamics through a feminist lens by examining how universities (don't) protect their researchers.

Presentation long abstract:

While movements as #MeToo sparked discussion about gender-based violence in academia, the problem of sexualized harassment during fieldwork remains largely invisible in literature and academic debates. Fieldwork requires long-term stays in often unfamiliar areas and close relationships with participants to collect data. While this closeness of intimacy has long been a key benchmark in measuring the quality of the socio-scientific research, early-career researchers acquire little preparation. Such lack of preparation can be dangerous, especially considering an American study reported 70 percent of predominantly women scientists experienced sexual intimidation at fieldwork sites. The current culture of silence around gender-based harassment and violence normalizes the still prevalent image of the ‘heroic fieldworker’: a trope that pays little attention to (gendered) risks of doing fieldwork for female-identifying researchers and members of the BIPoC and/or LGBTQIA+ community. As such, the academic silence surrounding gender-based violence in the field affects individual researchers as well as academic structures. On an individual level, researchers might experience feelings of failure, shame, guilt, stress and loneliness when faced with gender-based harassment or violence in the field. On a structural level, prevalent discourses of fieldwork, its risks and the role of the fieldworker shapes our questions, methodology, data collection and knowledge production. With this presentation, we critically examine this academic silence and specifically the role of universities in reinforcing it through unequal knowledge production, thereby failing to protect their researchers in the field.

Lightning panel LP1b
What do we hope for a university of tomorrow? Transforming academia along with feminist, decolonial, anti-racist and engaged approaches II
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -