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Research and war: methodological challenges, ethical dilemmas, and political implications 
Emanuele Fantini (IHE Delft Institute for Water Education)
Mitiku Tesfaye (EHESS and Sciences Po Paris)
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Sabine Planel (IRD - Institut de Recherches pour le Développement)
Politics and International Relations (x) Decoloniality & Knowledge Production (y)
Philosophikum, S78
Wednesday 31 May, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

Researchers with professional or personal bonds with African countries at war are encouraged to reflect on their positionality - ethical, political, methodological, and personal challenges - to imagine a more peaceful future in Africa and to speculate on the role that research should play therein.

Long Abstract:

This workshop is meant as a space for researchers with professional or personal bonds with Ethiopia and other African countries at war, to share and discuss the ethical, political, methodological, and personal challenges experienced in the past years. Some of us took position with one side in the conflict; others promoted international petitions; others preferred to keep silent; and others managed to pursue their research and fieldwork in the country. Most importantly many of us have faced tremendous challenges and hardships as they had been directly, or indirectly, exposed to war-induced violence and pressure. The destructive nature of the war and its over politicisation in Ethiopia disrupted personal relations and impacted also on academic collaborations; in other cases, the humanitarian emergency and the polarisation of the positions cemented ties among colleagues or research groups.

The workshop aims at reflecting on the role, possibility and challenges of social sciences in war contexts. Therefore, its focus will be on the methodological choices, approaches and strategies that we have adopted in the past years: pursuing fieldwork, turning to digital research and/or remote sensing, disengaging from research, avoiding the most contentious topics,.. By presenting and comparing the results of these different types of research, we wish to create a safe space to share personal experiences, moral dilemmas, and methodological challenges. By reflecting on our positionality of researchers confronted to a war, we wish to imagine a more peaceful future in Africa as elsewhere, and to speculate on the role that researcher should play therein.

Accepted contribution:

Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -