ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Ethics and Empathy within Power Structures

A response to “Ethics and Empathy: Doing Ethnography in Conflict Zones” (EPW, 16 April 2022) highlights how ethical considerations are inseparable from any research, especially so in the context of a conflict zone.

I must begin by congratulating Aamir Shiekh on raising some very important issues surrounding the debate and outrage surrounding Saiba Verma’s book, The Occupied Clinic. There is no greater joy than dialogue with a former student as a contemporary.

I particularly value his ideas highlighting the inaccessibility of conflict zones and the precarity of doing fieldwork in a context where the population feels vulnerable and threatened. It is difficult to get people to speak in a context where claiming a voice in a context where voice means visibility, and visibility has repercussions. It is a double bind, in that understudying conflict zones result in an opacity that can obscure popular discourse, fuelling political and social apathy; this social and political apathy condones violence, making a context “too vulnerable” to be studied with discipline. Shiekh suggests that there is a conflict between the social world of the researcher and their understanding of the social world of the communities they choose to study. It is true that these two subject positions inside the head of the researcher (their social world and “their understanding” of the community’s social world) are constantly duelling (considering the researcher being talked about is reflexive).

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Updated On : 5th Dec, 2022
Back to Top