The Ethics of Ethnographic Peace and Conflict Research

Gearoid Michael Millar* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Research ethics procedures often seem concerned more with issues of insurance and accountability (small ‘e’) than they are with ethics in a more substantive sense (a capital ‘E’). But researchers working in post-conflict contexts have very good reasons to consider Ethics more fully, and to reflect deeply on the things we do and don’t do and how they impact, or fail to impact, on the communities in which we work. Where do our responsibilities lie and how should we attempt to meet them in deeply unsettled and often impoverished and unequal societies? This chapter examines what I have come to see as the ethical shortcomings of my own extensive ethnographic research conducted in rural Sierra Leone over more than 18 months spread across six years. Through an extended narrative describing the context of my research that also seeks to provide some insight into the lives of my interlocutors, the chapter eventually explores my own responsibilities above and beyond those stipulated by formal ethical requirements and, sadly, reflects on my failure to meet these responsibilities. If I had known then what I know now, my research would have been substantially more engaged, proactive, and relevant to socioeconomic problems in post-conflict societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Companion to Peace and Conflict Fieldwork
EditorsRoger Mac Ginty, Roddy Brett, Birte Vogel
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-46432-5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


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