[Iag-list] CFP: AAG 2016 Dealing with traumatic research content and places

Christine Eriksen ceriksen at uow.edu.au
Wed Sep 23 17:00:19 AEST 2015

Session Proposal for the AAG 2016, 29 March - 2 April 2016, San Francisco, CA
If you are interesting in presenting as part of this session, please contact Dale Dominey-Howes (dale.dominey-howes at sydney.edu.au<mailto:dale.dominey-howes at sydney.edu.au>) before submitting your abstract online. Please note the online abstract submission deadline of 29 October 2015.
Dale Dominey-Howes, University of Sydney, Australia
Danielle Drozdzewski, University of New South Wales, Australia
Christine Eriksen, University of Wollongong, Australia
Researcher trauma: Dealing with traumatic research content and places
We all ‘do’ research, but in ‘doing’ research, we rarely spend time thinking about the outcome of that research on our own emotional wellbeing, let alone on our writing and analytical research practices. This omission is partly because in the neoliberal university we do not have the time to insert ourselves into our own research practice and because we are taught to think about our participants and that self-reflection might seem indulgent. We frequently keep ourselves, and our emotional responses, separate as a matter of practice.
As researchers, we are taught to remain vigilant about the ramifications of our research and subsequent methodologies on our participants. University ethics approval processes contain specific clauses about the potential for research methodologies to cause trauma to participants, the measures we must implement as researchers to mitigate and or remedy such trauma and processes of debriefing participants. As Sultana (2007: 375) has noted, ethical concerns ‘permeate the entire process of the research, from conceptualization to dissemination… researchers are especially mindful of negotiated ethics in the field’.  Yet we seldom consider how our research topics, methodologies and subsequent work affect us as researchers.  What are the impacts and outcomes of working in traumatic research environments and places, or venturing into stressful and distressing research topics, content and practices?
While some research on secondary traumatic stress with particular clinician-orientated disciplines exists, within geography – a discipline whose research thematic is broad and multiple – there are few tools given or taught to us for dealing with especially traumatic research experiences. One of Haraway’s (1988:584) initial suppositions was that an ‘ideology of objectivity’ within scientific disciplines spurred a further feminist geography (and geographers) to critique research practice and embodiment. This research began with the view that methods are learnt and performed (consciously and unconsciously) from the:
‘position [of] the researcher as an omnipotent expert in control of both passive research subjects and the research process. Years of positivist-inspired training have taught us that impersonal, neutral detachment is an important criterion for good research’ (England, 1994: 242).
The objectives of this Session are to:

  *   demonstrate how as researchers we think about, but do not always necessarily come to terms with, our experiences researching in traumatic places and with traumatic content
  *   provide a place to devote to encounters into the traumatic; a place where they can be the feature events of the presentations, and not merely sentences embedded within methods sections
  *   promote critical reflection on our own research practices that involve traumatic experiences for us as researchers and
  *   identify a set of guidelines, best practices, tools and materials that can be used by researchers to help them prepare prior to and reflect upon their experiences in the field of traumatic research.
We invite contributions from geographers working with traumatic content and places across the diversity of the field. Contributions might come from (amongst others) researchers working on conflict, genocide and war; hazards, disasters and risk; domestic violence, assault and crime; non-human and more than human.

England, K. V. L. (1994). Getting personal: Reflexivity, positionality, and feminist research,  Professional Geographer, 46(1):80-89.
Haraway (1988) Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective, Feminist Studies, 14(3): 575-599.
Sultana, F. (2007) Reflexivity, Positionality and Participatory Ethics: Negotiating Fieldwork Dilemmas in International Research, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 6(3): 374 – 385.
Sponsoring Groups (http://www.aag.org/cs/membership/specialty_groups):
Hazards, Risks and Disasters
Qualitative Research
Cultural geography
Christine Eriksen, PhD FRGS
Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research
Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
T +61 2 4221 3346 | Twitter<https://twitter.com/DrCEriksen> | Web<http://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/ausccer/people/UOW073400.html>


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