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STIBET | Doing Research in Lockdown: Should We Work Around or Work Through the Pandemic?


Nov 26, 2020 from 02:00 to 06:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)


Online (Webex)

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+49 641 / 99-30 054

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The Covid-19 pandemic has already impacted humanities research profoundly, both in how research is done as well as questions guiding it. Particularly hit are the early career researches whose projects have been altered in their inception, not to mention the impact on short term research projects and a generation or two of MA students working with qualitative research methods whose work has been lost for the most part. Teaching and training in qualitative methods now also need rethinking in order to compensate for the indispensible human interaction. Reflections on the pandemic are already myriad (see for example 13 Perspectives on the Pandemic, 2020) as are the collected resources to help early career scholars (check Goldsmiths Method Lab or Prof. Lupton “Breaking Methods” series). However, there is an overwhelming feeling that what started as a potentially temporary hiatus might turn into a multiyear break for some projects with lasting ramifications on how we approach the field in the future. Therefore this workshop aims to address the challenges set before ethnographic researchers in times of pandemic when borders are closed, funding limited and every contact with the field brings about a series of ethical, health and security concerns.

On top of external restrictions, researchers face a number of challenges including inadequate working spaces, further overlapping of personal and professional life, limited funding, time restrictions, solitude, pressure on mental health and other issues. This workshop aims to reflect on different ways qualitative research and researchers have been impacted in the last six months and discuss potential ways out of the situation. Even though there will be a pre-shared ‘relief package’ with online and offline resources on how to equip yourself to handle the pandemic, the workshop’s focus is on discussing individual cases and thinking about potential solutions and alternatives. For the second part I intend to invite up to three scholars with experience in qualitative methodologies whose research has been halted due to the pandemic. In some respects, however, interruptions to field research are not a novelty and we should also look at them as an opportunity. From politically unstable contexts, to revolutions and wars, to health issues or natural disasters, researchers always found ways to access the field under pressure. In other words, every research faces interruptions and obstacles and, though they might be less dramatic than a global pandemic, they might lead individual research away from initial plans and timelines into an uncharted territory of thinking about our research creatively.


// Zoran Vuckovac (GCSC)

// Elissa Helms is Associate Professor and Head of Department at the Department of Gender Studies, Central European University. She holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her most recent book, Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation and Women’s Activism after the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina was published by the University of Wisconsin Press' Critical Human Rights series. Through an ethnographic study of local women’s NGO (non-governmental organization) activism in the Bosniac (Muslim) dominated areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the book explores the ambiguities produced by claims to victimhood, ambiguities that become clear through their gendered meanings and through the realization that what is ultimately at stake are claims to innocence and moral purity. Prof. Helms’ latest research project is on the gendered and racialized effects of non-European migration on border areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the wider "Balkan Route." Prof. Helms is currently working on a volume looking at the eastern borders of Europe with special attention to the dynamics of gender and money at and across material and conceptual borders.


//Dr. Ana Ivasiuc is a social anthropologist working on urban insecurity, social and racial inequalities, policing, and the far-right in Europe. Her doctoral thesis analyses conflicts and strategies of upward social mobility of Roma within a World Bank-funded community development project implemented in destitute Roma communities in Romania. In her postdoctoral research within the Collaborative Research Center ‘Dynamics of Security: Forms of Securitization in Historical Perspective’ she has conducted ethnographic research on securitization of the Roma through formal and informal policing in the peripheries of Rome. In 2020, she joined the Center for Conflict Studies in Marburg to conduct a comparative ethnography of civilian defense groups or neighborhood patrols in Germany and The Netherlands, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. She published in peer-reviewed journals and co-edited two volumes (Roma Activism: Reimagining Power and Knowledge, with Sam Beck, 2018, Berghahn Books, and The Securitization of the Roma in Europe, with Huub van Baar and Regina Kreide, 2019, Palgrave Macmillan).

// Mina Ibrahim is completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of Giessen-Germany & The international Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC). He is the project coordinator of the MENA Prison Forum. Moreover, he is a residential fellow at Cairo Institute for Libera Arts and Sciences (CILAS) in Cairo-Egypt, and a visiting fellow at the collaborative research group (Dynamics of Security) at the University of Marburg-Germany. His main research interests focuses on cultures of incarceration and victimhood narratives of religious minorities in the MENA region.