Panel D

Positionality of the Researcher in Interdisciplinary Research

Pasqualina Eckerström & Helmi Halonen: Don’t Say My Name! The Ethical and Emotional Burden of Working with Sensitive Data 

Several ethical issues arise when conducting research on sensitive topics. Such research also carries the risk of emotional distress for both participants and researchers. Recalling or collecting traumatic experiences may trigger symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress or vicarious trauma. Moreover, when investigating topics that could result in harm to participants, the researcher is often left alone with this burden. Unfortunately, there are no protocols in place to safeguard both participants’ and researchers’ security and emotional well-being.

This paper builds upon the experience of two doctoral researchers: Eckerström focuses on the narratives of persecuted musicians in Iran and Saudi Arabia. To conduct her research, she conducts extensive interviews with the participants. Halonen studies the assessment of religious persecution in asylum interviews and decision-making. Her data consists of interview transcripts and decisions, highly confidential documents that often contain detailed descriptions of traumatic events.

Together they reflect on their experience in dealing with emotional accounts. What happens when the voices of the participants live inside your head? What are the institutional shortcomings in supporting researchers? What ethical issues were raised during the development of their research?  Our recommendation is that specialised training could be developed to guide those undertaking this challenging task.

Mikael Kivelä: Maps as Epistemic Artefacts in Interdisciplinary Work 

Communicating about research involves choices. For example, what do we include or leave out? In what way do we structure the things we include to produce order and meanings with our actual or presumed audiences? In other words, what kind of horizon or landscape do we construct or end up with? Additionally, what are the blind spots of our choices, be they theoretical, methodological or some other kind? These aspects are particularly important when the people involved cannot be assumed to have largely similar perceptions and understandings of the research they are conducting together.

In this paper I discuss deleuzoguattarian maps as a way of selecting and structuring matters involved in doing interdisciplinary research. Primarily I approach maps as epistemic artefacts which give matters of concern a physico-chemical form for shared knowledge-building by communicating about what the participants perceive and what it means to them. Thus, maps can make both transformations and change happen by de- and reterritorialising our arrangements as I outline below.

Based on work done on attempts to change university pedagogy by introducing non-traditional learning spaces ostensibly reflecting societal changes, I argue the following: Maps can provide both an intuitive understanding of the presented relations as well as leverage for changing observations and interpretations by affecting a) what gets included in the inquiry, b) the way these included elements relate to each other and subsequently, c) the meanings bestowed on these elements and relations. Therefore, making maps as methodological choice can push us to engage more comprehensively with the complexity of changes and phenomena we are researching. Moreover, making maps together can reduce our dependence on jargon.

Barış Can Sever: Agrarian Justice and Migratory Movements as a Multifaceted Process Under the Impacts of Climate Crisis 

The aim of the research is to analyse the additional and interactive role of the current climate crisis in human mobility, displacement, migration, and to specifically understand how this role has emerged as a significant constituent for migratory movements (including immobility) in relation with the impacts of inequalities and injustices in socio-economically impoverished agrarian areas in Turkey. In the last decade and even earlier, a general trend in the agrarian areas of Turkey demonstrates that young farmers leave the agrarian production and tend to move to towns and cities. In this context, the research is designed to focus on the particular region called “Central Anatolian Agricultural Basin” in Konya/Turkey where the rising impacts of drought, desertification, and unexpected weather conditions along with political, social and economic reasons, and the mismanagement in agricultural practices have impinged severe consequences on agricultural production and livelihoods. One of the predictions is to observe internal mobility/immobility and migration in Turkey due to intensifying impacts of neoliberal politics and the climate crisis. However, the combination of a sociological perspective on migration issues with the climate crisis is not very common in Turkish academia. Therefore, a social perspective and respective research design could be considered as an important contribution to reaching to a better understanding of (socio-economically, politically, and historically generated) climate crisis and its consequences on the lives and migration decisions of people. In relation to the research design, the positionality of the researcher will be discussed while theoretical and methodological approaches along with the preparations of the field study for this interdisciplinary research will be elucidated in the paper.

Keywords: climate crisis, neoliberal politics, migration, (im)mobility, agrarian justice, positionality