Gunasinghe NPAS & Simmons R (2020) Minimising risks to the researcher in post-war zones. SAGE Advance [Preprint] 03.02.2020. https://advance.sagepub.com/articles/preprint/Minimising_risks_to_the_researcher_in_post-war_zones/11777880
Doing fieldwork is probably the most rewarding task for researchers in spite of the risks that are involved. However, at the best of times, this can still be a daunting task for researchers despite careful planning and the fact that they have some risk awareness and prior experience. This paper considers the risks to researchers of working in modern post-war zones, where the risks faced by researchers can be significant.
This paper first outlines the nature of the partnership between researchers, principal investigators/supervisors and university ethics committees, noting, in particular, the boundaries of responsibility within this partnership and how the lead role in this responsibility relationship shifts over time from institutions to the individual researcher. Second, it recounts and reflects upon the experiences of the researcher on working in a post-war zone in Northern Province, Sri Lanka in 2015, following the war in which officially ended in May 2009. Various effects of the war were still evident, which required careful management by the researcher. Finally, the paper seeks to draw out the positive learning from these insights and experiences, offering some constructive suggestions for the management of responsibility and risk for research in post-war situations.
Physical risks; emotional risk; fieldwork; risk management; post-war Sri Lanka