Conventions of Silence: Emotions and Knowledge Production in War-Affected Research Environments

Jamar, A., and Chappuis, F. (December 2016)

Abstract: Both academic and policy-orientated research in conflict-affected places occurs principally within the interdisciplinary fields of peace and conflict studies as well as development studies, with strong associations to Political Science and International Relations. The epistemological methodological and professional conventions that dominate these fields routinely ignore – silence – the emotions generated in human experience of violence and poverty. This article develops an analytical framework to deconstruct these conventions that exclude emotionality and normative commitments from the research process. We identify three ways in which dominant research conventions in the study of peace, conflict and development silence emotions, both of the researcher and the research subject. Illustrating these various modes of silencing with direct experiences from policy an academic field research in war-affected contexts, the article shows how these conventions of silence can skew theoretical analysis, disguise political bias in the research and cause personal harm to those involved in the process of knowledge creation.

Keywords: concepts

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