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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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Empathy as a critical methodological tool in peace research

Empathy as a critical methodological tool in peace research

(p.221) 11 Empathy as a critical methodological tool in peace research
Experiences in Researching Conflict and Violence

Sinéad Walsh

Policy Press

This chapter discusses the politics and practice of empathy in peace research. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Armenia and Azerbaijan, it shows how empathetic research relations impacted the methodological design for a study of women's nongovernmental organisations and peacebuilding. Although developing friendships with some participants led to important insights and broadened the scope of the research, there were ethical risks associated with power relations and emotionally and politically sensitive information. Drawing on feminist methodologies, the chapter argues for reflexivity as a way of navigating relationships responsibly and making sense of the researcher's changing subjective position. On leaving the field, reflexivity is required in order to analyse and represent information ethically, and to understand the implications of power and empathy in the politics of knowledge production.

Keywords:   empathy, ethnography, peace research, Armenia, Azerbaijan, relationships, feminist methodologies, power

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