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Experiences in Researching Conflict and ViolenceFieldwork Interrupted$
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Althea-Maria Rivas and Brendan Ciarán Browne

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447337683

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447337683.001.0001

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Conducting unleashing interviews where control means life or death

Conducting unleashing interviews where control means life or death

(p.15) 1 Conducting unleashing interviews where control means life or death
Experiences in Researching Conflict and Violence

Rose Løvgren

Policy Press

This chapter discusses ethical concerns about empathetic engagement in interviews about violence. It discusses cases from fieldwork in Rwanda where emotional investment in the field can be experienced as deeply intrusive, and explores the ethical and political meaning of the author’s own doubts and insecurities with regards to these encounters. The chapter argues that interviewees living in violent settings may at times subdue their sense of self as a survival tactic. When the research interview works to affirm the interviewee’s sense of self, it is often experienced as a threat. The chapter discusses a case where insecurity in the aftermath of a research encounter took part in structuring the author’s gendered and sexed positionality in the field. The cases discussed are used to illustrate that empathetic engagement in violent research settings can cause interviewees experience of harm through loss of control in a setting where control means life or death.

Keywords:   violence, ethics, interviews, emotion, gender, sex, political subjectivity, Rwanda

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