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Fieldnotes, Field Research, and Positionality of a “Contested-Native Researcher”

Posted on 2021-06-22 - 00:06

The article recapitulates field research experiences of a native researcher in Eastern DRC. In many cases, a native is considered an insider. However, the field research took place in an ethnically polarized context where an insider researcher can be mischaracterized and amalgamated to her own ethnic community. Besides polarization, the fieldwork took place in a volatile setting to the extent that it increases security concerns for a researcher who belongs to a “contested community”; meaning, researcher’s position is likely associated with his ethnic community. Based on the field experience, the article shares insights of dealing with this complexity, volatility, and uncertainties. While the article does not claim that insights can be generalized across different contexts, it specifically proposes some attitudes to take when a researcher faces a dilemma of touching the ground realities while he might individually be amalgamated within socio-cultural differences. The article recalls the necessity of understanding the effects of socio-cultural polarization within the academic field.

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