The overarching goal of this session is to reflect on ethical dilemmas that researchers confront when conducting studies in violent conflict situations and how these dilemmas are overcome as well as their impact on methodologies of such research. The above concerns loom especially large in Africa where there has been proliferation of many forms of violent conflicts championed by violent non-state actors ranging from terrorists, armed militias to violent cultists. The endemic nature of these conflicts in a good number of African nations point to the fact that we need to know more about the nature, dynamics and driving motives of these violent groups besides the very obvious consensus that these are driven by the quest for power, poverty and elite corruption. Such nuanced and reflexive knowledge would go a long way in the general efforts towards understanding, unravelling and overcoming the development retarding effects of these conflicts. Therefore, the need for in-situ research efforts as the basis of evidence-based apprehension of these groups and the conflicts they generate cannot be overstated. However, doing research in a conflict situation generates peculiar challenges and risks. Thus, such research efforts may be confronted with peculiar issues of ethics and by implication appropriate methodologies since the sensitive and overtly risky nature of such undertaking may undermine the desire and effort to abide with the main canons of social research ethics particularly issues of full disclosure and informed consent. In more cases than otherwise, the researcher is confronted with the choice over keeping to the best dictates of research ethics and not doing the study. This ambivalence challenges the innovative capacity of the researcher and often calls for engagement subtilities that one would not confront in any other research situation or environment. In view of the foregoing, the session calls for papers that address the ways and means of conducting ethical research in an on-going conflict situation and the methodologies of such undertaking.
The organizers would particularly welcome submissions anchored on experience of such research undertaking as well as theoretical papers that radically interrogate the ‘do-ability’ of ethical research in such situations. Submissions can be guided and structured by the following issues: challenges of ethical social research in violent conflict situations; innovative strategies for overcoming peculiar ethical challenges in violent conflict situations; practical experience and lessons learnt in research in active conflict situations; methodological challenges of social research in active conflict situations, theoretical insights on ethical and methodological challenges of conflict research; ethical and methodological issues of social research with children living in situations of active conflict; ethical and methodological issues of social research with women in situations of active conflict; other submissions bordering on the general themes of ethics and methodologies of research in active conflict situations.