5. Research Ethics and Inequality 

Inequality is manifested in many different forms across time periods and societies, and (historical) research is not exempt from it either. The impact of inequality on research is most visible when the topic of study is a vulnerable group or a sensitive subject, as these topics can be challenging to tackle – and not only for the researcher. For example, if a researcher collects oral history material on the history of sexual minorities in a society where these groups are a taboo, can the research lead to the disclosure of an interviewee’s identity and social reprisal? And what if the publication of a study has social or political consequences that the historian did not intend? Of course, inequality in research can manifest itself in other ways as well, such as the researcher’s relation to their objects of study, or the access that they have to different types of sources. Ethical codes and rules for research are an attempt to minimise harm, but are there situations that these guidelines fail to account for?

The workshop will consist of an introduction into the topic by the workshop leaders, followed by presentations prepared by participants (around 15 minutes, somewhat depending on the number of participants; topics will be agreed upon in an online meeting with all workshop participants shortly after the application period is over), and discussion about the topics raised. Depending on the interests of the participants, presentation themes could include (for example) metahistorical case studies of research ethics going particularly wrong or right, the way global and local inequality affects the pursuit of research (ie. the dominant position of the English language; the danger that publishing certain types of research can put a researcher or their research subjects in), or other issues of research ethics and inequality.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the workshop leaders!


Workshop leaders:
Maisa Mattila, Nelli Nokelainen, Piort Budzyński