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Fieldwork Challenged: Ethical, Practical and Political Questions

April 12, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

12 April 2019

University of Bath

4W 1.2

Organisers: Dr Luisa Enria (Bath) & Dr Ross Porter (Exeter)


As part of the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP), we are organising a one-day workshop for MRes and PhD students to discuss the ethical, practical and political challenges of doing fieldwork.

Social science research often involves fieldwork in locations across the world and on challenging, sensitive topics. In our programmes we offer very good methodological and theoretical training so that our students are academically well prepared to develop research protocols and plans. However, questions of practical challenges and the everyday ethical concerns (beyond ethical clearance practices) that inevitably emerge from the “messy” experience of fieldwork are rarely a subject of discussion. Similarly, the political dimensions of field research—such as the ways in which it is implicated in global power structures—too often remain unchallenged.

A growing movement of students and young scholars is identifying these as important gaps in graduate training (see for example The New Ethnographer). They are pushing for the complexities and challenges of fieldwork to be discussed openly and frankly and for them to come centre stage in the preparations for qualitative research. In addition, there are increasing calls for critiquing the way fieldwork is currently conceptualised and carried out and the ways in which ethnographic (and other qualitative research) needs to consider the effects of identity and intersectionality on ethics and power relations in the field and the academy. Conversations to decolonise universities increasingly demand that the way we think of and carry out our work take into account diversity of experiences and voices. Finally, there is an increasing need of discussing and debating the collaborative dimension of the research with local partners in the field as impact is becoming an important consideration of the research.


In the workshop we aim to bring together students and staff to share personal experiences of fieldwork, to challenge practice and discuss future imaginations of what research can and should be. We strongly encourage applications to present from SWDTP students. Presentations are invited to engage with one (or more) of the following themes:

1. Political Challenges: Global Hierarchies and Intersectionality

2. Ethical challenges: Situational Ethics Beyond Approvals

3. Practical Challenges: Embracing ‘Messiness’

Tickets available from eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/challenging-fieldwork-ethical-practical-and-political-questions-tickets-59442719775

Funding to attend is available for a limited number of participants travelling to Bath from other SWDTP institutions.


April 12, 2019
8:00 am - 5:00 pm


University of Bath