Expecting the Unexpected
Copyright 2022, Kathleen O’Reilly, Professor & Presidential Impact Fellow
This workshop introduces scholars to best practices for research on sensitive subjects. Through readings, short lectures, group discussions, and role-plays, participants are encouraged to think about their own personal and professional experiences, as well as their plans to conduct work on sensitive subjects, and concerns regarding encounters with sensitive information in the field. The workshop will cover such topics as: ethics, empathy, gatekeepers, threats of violence, and managing emotions in the field.
The workshop leader:
After 25 years of experience working with vulnerable populations (e.g., lowest caste groups) on sensitive topics (e.g., open defecation) in a foreign language (e.g., Hindi), Kathleen O’Reilly has made a career of asking difficult questions and listening to the answers. She has learned over the course of harrowing encounters, vengeful gatekeepers, and moments of grace a thing or two about best practices and the finer points of ethics, legal considerations, and plain, old how-do-I-live-with-myself? after confronting sensitive information in the field.
Dhanju, R. and K. O’Reilly. (2012) Human Subjects Research and the Ethics of Intervention: Life, Death, and Radical Geography in Practice. Antipode. 43 (3): 513-516
O’Reilly, K. Showdown in the Sunderbans (or Coping with Gatekeepers). (unpublished)
O’Reilly, K. and E. Louis. PLUM Installation Steps. (unpublished)
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