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Organizers: Centre d’études et de recherches inter. de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM) and équipe de recherche sur le Politique et le Religieux en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient (PRAM).

Location: Université de Montréal — Room 6420 (6th floor) — 3744 rue Jean Brillant.

The CÉRIUM and the PRAM are delighted to welcome you to a workshop dedicated to exploring the challenges researchers encounter in qualitative research, specifically in challenging environments such as Africa and the Middle East. These difficulties can be related to the authoritarian nature of the regions or conflict contexts. The day will be an opportunity to address the following questions:

  1. What are the significant challenges researchers face during qualitative social science research in Africa and the Middle East?
  2. Are these challenges specific to these regions, or do they echo broader issues associated with fieldwork in authoritarian or conflictual contexts?
  3. How have these challenges evolved? Are they the same as several years ago, or are they related to the evolution of the contemporary international political and social context?
  4. What collective solutions can overcome the identified challenges based on concrete field experiences in Africa and the Middle East? Our goal will be to stimulate collective reflection on these issues, drawing on the experience of various researchers specializing in studying Africa and the Middle East.

The day will bring together researchers from CÉRIUM, the PRAM, and others working on these issues. We invite you to prepare a presentation of approximately 7–8 minutes for the day (which will be followed by a question/discussion period of also around 7–8 minutes). The contributions presented during this day could lay the groundwork for what could ultimately become a special issue or an edited volume. The outcome of this project will be determined collectively based on the professional objectives of each participant. Main themes: Building on pioneering work (Sriram et al. 2009; Kapiszewski, MacLean, and Read 2015; Clark and Cavatorta 2018; Berit and Morten 2020), your presentation could focus on specific field-related challenges, including but not limited to, logistical challenges (infrastructure inadequacies, internet access, transportation constraints, etc.), political and regulatory issues (management of official permits, surveillance, censorship, corruption, etc.), or psychological aspects (managing stress, anxiety, and fear, etc.). Also, in line with previous works (Lee and Renzetti 1990; Dresch, James, and Parkin 2000; Boumaza and Campana 2007; Sriram et al. 2009; Ortbals and Rincker 2009; Fujii 2010; Bush and Duggan 2013; Fujii 2015; Ayimpam and Bouju 2015; Cronin-Furman and Lake 2018; Clark and Cavatorta 2018; Baaz and Utas 2019; Roll and Swenson 2019; Shesterinina 2019; Berit and Morten 2020; Marzo and Gomez-Perez 2020), your presentation might address broader epistemological and/or ethical aspects, such as, but not exclusively, how researchers navigate local identities and norms in challenging contexts, questions related to the balance between in-depth analysis and the safety of participants and researchers, the truthfulness of statements made by actors under strong constraints, managing the unexpected, relationships with intermediaries, particularly their identity and security, or questions regarding the integration of new technologies in studies, especially the advantages, risks, and potential biases associated, etc. Please note that the themes are flexible and cross-cutting issues can be addressed. We encourage you to enrich your reflection with personal experiences.