Conference on Fieldwork to Analyze Challenges of Transparency in Complicated Circumstances

The conference on “Conducting Fieldwork under Complicated Circumstance,” organized by two graduate students at the University of New Mexico (Anna Calasanti and Fiorella Vera-Adrianzénwill involve faculty, students, and other practitioners in two days of dialogue about strategies and techniques to manage ethical, logistical, and personal security issues during fieldwork. Check out the conference website here. Topics to be discussed include:



  • Risk of revictimization/ retraumatization of research participants
  • Instrumentalization of research participants
  • Externalities (i.e. risks and benefits) of participation in fieldwork activities
  • Disruption or transgression/violation of cultural norms
  • Pros and cons of cultural embedding, building trust and personal relationships with participants
  • Giving back to the community: why and how should we give back to the community? What are some of the constraints, benefits and risks when doing so? What are some appropriate ways to do it?
  • Mediator role among parties that are in conflict in the field: Shuttle diplomacy
  • Intervening to help research participants (directly or indirectly)
  • Confidentiality and privacy of research participants’ responses: how to secure this at all times, especially when methods imply a bigger audience (i.e. focus groups)? Are there any cases in which these principles can be overlooked? What should be done under those circumstances?
  • DA-RT (Data Access and Research Transparency): pros and cons
  • Identity of the researcher
  • Perceptions about researcher: What kind of impression do we give social actors about us, as researchers, as representatives of academic institutions or of disciplinary fields?

Logistical / Practical

  • Developing efficient and realistic itineraries/ traveling plans
  • Traveling across mountainous terrain, difficult geographical features, conflict zones
  • Organization of collected data; in particular qualitative data
  • Collection and processing/analysis of data while in the field: sequential or parallel tasks?
  • Measures to safely store collected data
  • Reporting to and communicating with advisors, mentors, peers
  • Cost-effective and safe plans for lodging and meals
  • Language and cultural barriers


  • Physical safety/health: risk factors and protective/preventive measures
  • Emotional/psychological safety/health: risk factors and protective/preventive measures
  • Dealing with secondary trauma
  • Safety of informants and research assistants


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