This volume offers practical, detailed guidance and case studies on how to avoid exacerbating inequalities while researching gender-based violence and other related issues in Africa.
Wartime violence and its aftermath present numerous practical, ethical, and political challenges that are especially acute for researchers working on gender-based and sexual violence. Drawing upon applied examples from across the African continent, this volume features unique contributions from researchers and practitioners with decades of experience developing research partnerships, designing and undertaking fieldwork, asking sensitive questions, negotiating access, collecting and evaluating information, and validating results. These are all endeavors that also raise pressing ethical questions, especially in relation to retraumatization, social stigma, and even payment of participants.
Ethical and methodological questions cannot be separated from political and institutional considerations. Systems of privilege and marginalization cannot be wished away, so they need to be both interrogated and contested. This is where precedents and power relations established under colonialism and imperialism take center stage. Europeans have been extracting valuable resources from the African continent for centuries. Research into gender-based violence risks being yet another extractive industry. There are times when committed individuals can make valuable contributions to a more equitable future, but funding streams, knowledge hierarchies, and institutional positions continue to have powerful effects.
Accordingly, the contributors to this volume also concentrate upon the layered effects of power and position, relationships between researchers, organizations, and communities, and the political economy of knowledge production; this brings into focus questions about how and why information gets generated, for which kinds of audiences, and for whose benefit.
Annie Bunting is a professor in the law and society program at York University, teaching in the areas of social justice and human rights. She is coeditor of Marriage by Force? Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa and Contemporary Slavery: The Rhetoric of Global Human Rights Campaigns. More info →
Allen Kiconco is the author of Gender, Conflict, and Reintegration in Uganda: Abducted Girls, Returning Women. She works on the lived experiences of women and girls in both conflict and postconflict settings of Africa, including abduction, captivity, sexual slavery, forced marriage, and forced pregnancy. More info →
Joel Quirk is a professor of politics at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the author or coeditor of eight books and is a founding editor of Open Democracy’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. His work focuses on enslavement and abolition, work and mobility, social movements, gender and violence, historical repair, and the history and politics of Africa. More info →
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