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Event 3: Three-Day Course on Ethics as Practice in Non-UK research settings and Global Crossroads.

In this event, training will be offered to researchers who undertake, or are about to undertake, research in non-UK settings and Global Crossroads and who wish to increase their understanding of some of the ethical dilemmas that need to be addressed, and what constitutes good ethical research, in these settings. A series of six workshops will be offered across the course of a 3-day event.
The event will be convened by Dr Nayanika Mookherjee and lead by a guest speaker expert in non-UK research. Other sessions will be led by members of the training team and research active experts from Lancaster University. Participants will consider some real life examples of ethical dilemmas in relation to non-UK-Gobal research. Training will focus around seminars/workshops, with informal discussions facilitated outside of the formal sessions to encourage the development of a broad forum for exchange of ideas. It is anticipated that these dilemmas will speak to similar predicaments faced by researchers in their own work, hence opportunities will be offered for researchers to discuss these issues within these workshops.

This event will run twice during the course of the initiative, the first event will provide an introduction to the key issues and will run in June 2007, the second event will offer a more advanced interrogation of the issues and will run in June 2009.

Lancaster University Three Day Course on
Research Ethics as Practice in Non-UK research settings
June 18th-20th (incl) 2007

In the first workshop held in June 2007 the invited external expert was Prof. John Gledhill [Manchester University; Chair, Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth http://www.theasa.org/who addressed issues of ethical research in non-UK settings within the global context.

Issues covered:

  • Ethnographic reflections of Non-UK research
  • Ethical research within the global context
  • Foreign Researchers as Spies
  • Science and Ethics
  • Informed consent and sensitive issues
  • Development discourse and Ethics
  • Ethical research with 'friends' and 'enemies'
  • Philosophical engagement with Non-UK research

Day 1 - Ethnographic reflections of doing research in Non-UK settings

Nayanika Mookherjee
Chair: Christine Milligan

This session will explore the ethical implications of doing research through an ethnographic approach in Non-UK settings relating to: power, relationships with research participants, subjectivity-objectivity debate, and reflexivity. Participants will be introduced to the need to consider ethical issues at the earliest stages of project design and advised on how this might be achieved. There will be an opportunity to consider illustrations of ethical dilemmas.

Science and Ethics

Michal Nahman
Chair: Dave Archard

This session will explore questions around doing ethnographic research in contentious biomedical spaces. Sensitive issues arising in research conducted in an Israeli ova harvesting clinic in Bucharest Romania will be addressed particularly in regards to competing 'aspirations' of physicians, clinic staff, donors and ethnographer.

Case Study: Informed consent, Anonymity and Sensitive Issues

Michal Nahman and Nayanika Mookherjee
Chair: Nayanika Mookherjee

This session will explore the contentious issue of informed consent and anonymity in relation to research relating to 'sensitive' issues (political violence, race and medicine). It is anticipated that the ethical questions will speak to similar predicaments faced by participants in their own research projects and provide an opportunity to discuss their research projects and dilemmas.


Day 2 Non-UK research: Ethics and Development

Julie Hearn
Chair: Hazel Biggs

This session will explore the extent to which sponsorship of projects in the field of development impinges on the ethical implications of research. Does sponsorship of projects lead to a hegemonic development discourse? How much room does it leave for intellectual autonomy? What implications of accountability does it entail? What are the ethical contours of research that challenges the hegemonic development discourse? What ethical issues should be kept in mind if research is linked to activism? Illustrations will be cited from the practices of UK Department for International Development (DFID), and can be extended to various other development organisations.

Case Study: Ethical research with 'friends' and 'enemies'

Julie Hearn and Nayanika Mookherjee
Chair: Nayanika Mookherjee

This session will explore the ethical implication of research among informants who are either 'friends' or 'enemies'. What implication does this have on the debates of reflexivity, accountability, subjectivity and objectivity?

Ethical Research in global context – Prof. John Gledhill
Chair – Nayanika Mookherjee

The ESRC Research Ethics Framework notes that principles defined for the UK, particularly in the area of informed consent, may not be transferable to other cultural contexts, thereby opening up a series of questions about international research and research on "non-majority cultures" such as "indigenous" minorities. Although this non-prescriptive approach is to be welcomed, it clearly mandates further discussion in particular cases. Research by non-nationals in a country of which they are not citizens also raises some important issues about one of the conventional qualifications of the injunction that research should not do harm to its subjects, i.e. when those subjects are powerful and/or act in ways that would normally be considered an appropriate subject for critical analysis in social science. This session will examine these issues in the context of what ethical codes normally define as "vulnerable" and "minority" groups, urban slum dwellers and indigenous peoples, focusing not only on the ethics of producing knowledge about these groups themselves, but also on the ethics of producing knowledge about "subalterns" in the same frame as producing knowledge about their relationships with more powerful actors.

Case Study: Foreign Researchers as Spies/ Prof. John Gledhill
Chair – Carole Truman
The "Death of Area Studies" proclaimed at the start of social science engagement with "globalization" has now given way to what often seems a recasting of Cold War dilemmas in the era of "the War Against Terror". In both Britain and the United States, the past few years have seen a number of initiatives to make academic research and training serve North Atlantic foreign policy agendas. Although many of these initiatives seem to be limited to the production of desk analyses and analysts, they nevertheless still have implications for field researchers working abroad, and it is always difficult to determine whether assurances that such projects will not spill over into clandestine agendas in field research can be trusted. The session will examine these issues in the light of current interests in the Islamic world.


Day 3 Philosophical engagement with Non-UK research

Andrew Dawson
Chair – Christine Milligan

The session aims to explore a range of issues raised in relation to ethics and non-UK research by recent discussions and debates in the philosophy of social science. This exploration is grounded with reference to the methodology of participant observation and starts from the theoretical problematization of research ethics arising from the post-modern turn. The actual issues engaged in the context of non-UK research range from subjectivity and identity, through disciplinary boundaries, to power and emancipation.

Open Forum of discussion with all participants and members of the training team: Nayanika Mookherjee, Andrew Dawson
Chair: Nayanika Mookherjee

This session will involve open discussion among all the participants around the issues raised in the last two days.


The Training Team

Andrew Dawson is Lecturer in Religious Studies at Lancaster University. Prior to arriving at Lancaster he was at University of Chester where he sat for five years on the university's Research Ethics Committee. Interested in all aspects of the interface between religion and society, Andrew's research is centred upon South America, particularly Brazil, where he has been undertaking fieldwork since the early 1990s. He is currently researching new religious movements in Brazil, paying particular attention to religious groups who use the hallucinogen ayahuasca as an integral part of their ritual repertoire.

John Gledhill is Max Gluckmann Professor of Social Anthropology at Manchester University. A specialist on Latin America, he has published extensively on ethically complex issues across the ethnic and social class spectrum, and conducted ethnographic fieldwork on regions characterised by high levels of violence, insecurity, and involvement in illegal activities. He is the current Chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (2005–2009), which is responsible for maintenance and updating of the discipline's Ethical Guidelines, and represents the views of the discipline on matters of controversy in ethical matters.

Julie Hearn is Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Lancaster University.She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses on the politics of development, specialising in foreign aid, democratization, social policy, civil society, NGOs and social movements.She has undertaken research in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa and Argentina.She has been a researcher at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, undertaken consultancies for the Department of International Development (DFID) and taught at the LSE.

Nayanika Mookherjee is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University and Ethics Officer, Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (http://www.theasa.org/). A social anthropologist, with interests in sexual violence during wars; transnational adoption and children and public anthropology (concerning anthropology of politics, state, memory, health and human rights), she has also worked with the Westminister Domestic Violence Forum. As a result, she has extensive experience in conducting ethnographic research and facilitating ethnographic training, particularly concerning sensitive issues relating to war, trauma and violence. She has engaged in various discussions relating to the rethinking of the relationship between ethics and anthropology, with colleagues in the Association of Social Anthropology (ASA).

Michal Nahman is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. She researches scientific practices in the Middle East and Eastern-Europe. She is primarily interested in ethnographic engagement with themes of gender, nationalism, race and borders. Specifically her research has looked at scientific practices of ovum extraction, exchange, fertilisation and implantation. The transnational practices of the ova trade raise many questions relating to national imaginaries as well as imaginaries of race and gender. These are important questions as well for feminism, and what would constitute a feminist politics when encountering contemporary biomedicine.

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