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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Research note: mistakes, crises, and research independence: the perils of fieldwork as a form of evidence
Editor:Cramer, ChristopherISNI
Year:2016
Periodical:African affairs: the journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Volume:115
Issue:458
Pages:145-160
Language:English
Geographic terms:Ethiopia
Uganda
Subjects:research
fieldwork
research methods
Link:http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/content/115/458/145.abstract
Abstract:Drawing on examples from rural Ethiopia and Uganda, this research note highlights some of the difficulties experienced in fieldwork. These difficulties do not justify the reluctance of increasingly risk-averse universities and funders to support independent fieldwork in Africa, but they do show that the rationale for research and the features of its design can provoke animosity and tensions. They also show that researchers' failure on occasion to appreciate local political dynamics made the situation more difficult. Challenges and threats came not only from local political forces but also from multinational companies and Fairtrade organizations uncomfortable with research findings and with fully independent research. The research note argues that the details of researchers' experience have a practical value for other researchers, and that at least some of them should be treated as substantive forms of evidence and insight, rather than simply as threats or failures. The authors conclude that some crude best-practice norms and pressures on academics to form partnerships to conduct policy-relevant work may undermine the potential for truly independent and intensive field research. However, crises should not necessarily be seen as an unwelcome interruption to smooth processes of research, they can illuminate the context and power relations that the research is trying to understand. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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