ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Re-reading the Field in Conflict Zones: Experiences from Kashmir Valley

This article explores how a conflict zone complicates research. Safety and security of the researchers are major concerns, whereas respondents tend to provide incorrect information based on their perceptions of and suspicions about the researcher. The resultant research often provides little insight into the chosen area; instead, it ends up providing broad generalisations and even, baseless theories. The author who conducted fieldwork on “Muslim Endowments and Society” in the valley, also interviewed 20 fellow researchers who worked in the valley between 2009 and 2013.

 The author would like to thank Waheeda Khan, Rumki Basu, Sabiha Hussain, and Tareak AH Rather for their inputs in writing this article, and an anonymous referee for helpful comments and suggestions.

Social Science research has encountered several crises throughout its history; more often than not, such crises have been methodological in character (Hammersly 1993). Ideally, a researcher must read/observe the field/context and represent the situation as it is.  In reality, however, this activity is replete with subjective factors: how much time one spends in the field; how much prior knowhow one has; follow-ups with respondents, and crosschecking of facts among others. These are questions that animate the researcher's world, alongside concerns about rapport building, methodological lapses, financial constraints, and time management. When the field happens to be a conflict zone, the data collected by the researcher is often coloured by the researcher's own threat perception, as well as respondents' perception of and suspicions about the researcher.

Challenges in Doing Research

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Published On : 23rd Feb, 2024

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