Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group

The Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group is a knowledge exchange and community hub for researchers, fellows and faculty members with an interest in fieldwork, ethnography, interviewing and qualitative methodology more broadly. We are part of the Social and Political Science Department at the European University Institute in Florence.

The group serves as a space to train and discuss different aspects of fieldwork as well as to learn from each other’s experiences and practices. We understand fieldwork as all data-collection outside the university: scholars across all career stages employing everything from ethnography to elite interviewing and archival research are most welcome to join the group and contribute to its conduct.

 

What we do

Given the EUI’s limited offerings of courses on qualitative methods generally, and fieldwork particularly, this working group understands itself as a student-led training and learning initiative. 

The Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group is designed as a reading and discussion group as well as a networking forum for anyone interested in implementing qualitative methodology. We aim to offer an institutionalised platform for critical engagement with a variety of qualitative research methods and theories.

Meeting every three weeks for a maximum of two hours, we will debate readings on a specific topic, sometimes accompanied by presentations by experienced internal or external scholars. On top of the regular meetings, the group is open to inputs by its members with activities ranging from practicing participant observation to receiving feedback on their research.

Additionally, we do provide a researcher database of EUI affiliates conducting qualitative fieldwork (see the list below). Researchers might consult it to find like-minded scholars for advice or support.

Who to contact

The Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group is organised by Ophelia Nicole-Berva, Wolfgang Minatti and Mariusz Bogacki, and sponsored by Professor Jeffrey Checkel and Professor Caitlin Procter. If you want to be included in the mailing list or have suggestions and ideas for the group, please contact either Ophelia, Wolfgang or Mariusz.

Last Session

Sessions & Events

Syllabus for our Seminar Series 
"A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Epistemology, Theory and Methods"

Qualifie Session #3 | Feminism with Giada Bonu

For the third session of the term, we have invited Giada Bonu (SNS) for a focus on the bridge between feminism and participatory action research from a methodological and epistemological

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For the third session of the term, we have invited Giada Bonu (SNS) for a focus on the bridge between feminism and participatory action research from a methodological and epistemological perspective.

The nexus of positionality, self-reflexivity and shared research-design building process will be explored through empirical example retrieved from a 4-years research project on feminist spaces in urban contexts between Italy and Spain.

Register here: Link will soon be available

About the speaker: Giada Bonu is PhD Candidate at the Scuola Normale Superiore. Her research is focused on the production of feminist spaces as safer spaces in urban contexts of Italy and Spain. She is author of publications on participatory methodologies and methods, on the feminist movements in Italy, on space and gender and decolonial approaches to feminism.

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Qualifie Session #4 | Post-Humanism

Session to be confirmed

Session to be confirmed

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Qualifie Session #5 | Post-Colonialism with Dr. Vineet Thakur

In this session, we will discuss the core tenets of a post-colonial perspective, zooming in particularly on the question of how a post-colonial commitment bears on the decolonisation of science

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In this session, we will discuss the core tenets of a post-colonial perspective, zooming in particularly on the question of how a post-colonial commitment bears on the decolonisation of science and practically doing research.

For that purpose, we have invited Dr. Vineet Thakur from Leiden University to give a keynote followed by an open discussion and Q&A.

Register at: TBC

About the Speaker: Vineet Thakur completed his PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in 2014. Before joining Leiden in September 2017, he worked at Ambedkar University (India), University of Johannesburg (South Africa) and SOAS (UK). He has also held fellowships at the University of Cambridge and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. His research interests are broadly in the politics of knowledge production from the Global South, especially within the discipline of International Relations. He is also a diplomatic historian with expertise in India and South Africa.

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Past Events

Introduction to Qualifie

We would like to invite you to the introductory session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Thursday, December 10 at 15:30 – 17:00. In this session, we would like to present the working group to the institute, sketch out our plans for the coming terms, and hear your ideas on the further conduct.

Most importantly, we present the syllabus for a student-led seminar series which the working group will run starting next term. You can find the syllabus already on our website: www.qualifie.eu (scroll down to events). Have a look at it, and we are happy to hear your thoughts in the working group’s first session. The Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group seeks to be inclusive to scholars from all epistemologies and approaches and we want to align the seminar series as best as possible to your demands.

If you want to join on zoom, send an email to Wolfgang or Mariusz!

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Qualifie Session #1 | Ethics with Dr. Luigi Achilli

We would like to invite you to the first session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, January 22 at 1pm-3pm.

The session is themed Ethics and therefore will concentrate on a variety of ethical considerations when conducting qualitative field work and research in general: How to ethically approach your research and its participants? How to make ethics central to your research design? How to think ethically prior, during and after your research?

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Dr. Luigi Achilli (EUI) who has kindly agreed to share some of his personal experience in answering the above questions. Luigi Achilli is a research associate at the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute. His research and writing focus on irregular migration and smuggling networks, refugee studies, political engagement and nationalism in the Middle East, and the Palestinian issue. Ethnographic in approach, his work is based on extensive field research in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean countries. 

We ask all participants to read the required readings prior to the session which we will discuss following a keynote by Luigi:

  • Knott, E., 2019. Beyond the Field: Ethics after Fieldwork in Politically Dynamic Contexts. Perspectives on Politics, 17 (1), 140–153.
  • Hammersley, M., 2009. Against the ethicists: on the evils of ethical regulation. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12 (3), 211–225.
  • Allen, Charlotte. 1997. "Spies Like Us: When Sociologists Deceive Their Subjects." Lingua Franca Nov., pp. 30-39.

If you want to join on zoom, send an email to Wolfgang or Mariusz!

 

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Qualifie Session #2 | Positionality with Dr. Shannon Philip

We would like to invite you to the second session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, February 5th at 1pm-3pm.

The session is themed Positionality and therefore will concentrate on how to negotiate issues of positionality in your qualitative field work and research in general: How does your gender, identity, race, religion, among other factors, affect your research? How are power and positionality connected? How address and negotiate positionality in research design and during the fieldwork?

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Dr. Shannon Philip (Cambridge) who has kindly agreed to share some of his personal experience in answering the above questions. Shannon Philip is an urban sociologist and ethnographer currently researching gender and urban transformations in post-apartheid South Africa. He is interested in the intersections of race, gender, sexualities, masculinities, class and development in the urban context of Johannesburg.

We ask all participants to read the required readings prior to the session which we will discuss following a keynote by Shannon:

  • Ortbals, C. D., & Rincker, M. E. (2009). Fieldwork, Identities, and Intersectionality: Negotiating Gender, Race, Class, Religion, Nationality, and Age in the Research Field Abroad: Editors’ Introduction. PS: Political Science & Politics, 42(02), 287–290.
  • Haraway, D., 1988. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14 (3), 575.

If you want to join on zoom, send an email to Wolfgang or Mariusz!

 

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Qualifie Session #3 | Decolonising Fieldwork with Dr. Mayssoun Sukarieh

We would like to invite you to the third session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, February 26th at 1pm-3pm.

The session is themed Decolonising Fieldwork and therefore will concentrate on how to decolonise qualitative fieldwork and field research in general.

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Dr. Mayssoun Sukarieh (King's College London) who has kindly agreed to share some of her personal experience in answering the above questions. Mayssoun Sukarieh is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Development, where she has worked for the last four years. Her publications can be summed under four broad areas of interests: Political economy and knowledge production about youth; Social and cultural transformations in the Arab World after the neoliberal turn; Knowledge production about refugees; Decolonising education.

We ask all participants to read the required readings prior to the session which we will discuss following an introduction by Mayssoun:

  • Sukarieh, M. and Tannock, Stuart 2013. On the Problem of Over-researched Communities: The Case of the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon. Sociology 47 (3) , pp. 494-508.
  • Sukarieh, M. and Tannock, S., 2019. Subcontracting Academia: Alienation, Exploitation and Disillusionment in the UK Overseas Syrian Refugee Research Industry. Antipode, 51 (2), 664–680.
  • If you want to join on zoom, register here

 

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Qualifie Session #4 | Mapping and Sampling the Field with Dr. Greta Semplici

We would like to invite you to the fourth session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, March 19th at 1pm-3pm.

The session is themed Mapping and Sampling the Field.

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Dr. Greta Semplici (Migration Policy Centre, EUI) who has kindly agreed to share some of her personal experience on the topic. Greta Semplici has recently earned a D.Phil. (Ph.D.) from the Oxford Department of International Development. Her research explored the concept of resilience from the perspective of pastoralist populations. She conducted an ethnographically informed study of desertscapes based on extended multi-sited fieldwork in Turkana County, in the arid lands of Northern Kenya.

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Qualifie Session #5 | Rapport in the Field with Prof. Gordon Matthews

We would like to invite you to the fifth session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, April 9th at 1pm-3pm.

The session is themed Rapport in the Field and we will discuss questions of how to establish and navigate social relations in the field.

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Prof. Gordon Mathews (The Chinese University of Hongkong) who has kindly agreed to share some of his personal experience on the topic.

Prof. Gordon Mathews has written or edited books about what makes life worth living in Japan and the United States, about the global cultural supermarket and the meanings of culture today, about the Japanese generation gap, about what it means to “belong to a nation” in Hong Kong and elsewhere, about how different societies conceive of happiness, about Chungking Mansions as a global building, and about low-end globalization around the world.

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Qualifie Session #6 | Focus Groups with Dr. Liam Stanley

The sixth session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, My 7th at 1pm-3pm, is on Focus Groups.

We will introduce the method, discuss its theoretical and methodological considerations, and the dos and don'ts of focus groups.

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Dr. Liam Stanley (The University of Sheffield) who has kindly agreed to share some of his personal experience on the topic.

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Qualifie Session #8 | Physical Safety with Dr. Kevin Köhler

The eighth session of the Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group on Friday, June 11 at 1pm-3pm, is on Physical Safety and Mental Health during Fieldwork.

For this session we are very excited to be joined by Dr. Kevin Köhler (Leiden University) who has kindly agreed to share some of his personal experience on the topic.

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Ethical Obligations of Field Research: The Fallacy of ‘Vulnerability’ for Fieldwork in Violent Contexts

Wolfgang Minatti (PhD Researcher at the EUI) is going to present his working paper titled "Ethical Obligations of Field Research: The Fallacy of ‘Vulnerability’ for Fieldwork in Violent Contexts". 

n recent years, a burgeoning literature within political science has started to reflect on the ethics of fieldwork in violent contexts. However, what causes ethical obligations to arise is unfortunately often discussed insufficiently as ethics are almost exclusively approached from the angle of ‘vulnerable populations’. This paper argues that the framing of ‘vulnerable populations’ obscures rather than reveals the ethical challenges during fieldwork in violent contexts. Drawing from feminist scholarship on the discourse of vulnerability, it shows that the framing of ‘vulnerable populations’ (1) naturalises vulnerability for certain groups, specifically the research participants, and neglects it for others, most importantly the researcher or assistants; (2) encourages paternalistic approaches on the part of the researcher; and (3) neglects the agency of the researched. Instead, ethical challenges and obligations of field research are better understood when adopting a relational lens and taking constellations of power asymmetry between the researcher, the researched and research assistants seriously. It proposes positionality and reflexivity as the available tools to at least alleviate the power relations at play, thus enabling a conscious approach of what causes ethical obligations and how to react to them.

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Qualifie Session #1 | Interpretivism with Prof. Lichterman

Join us for the session of this academic year on the 6th October! The session will focus on the core tenets of an interpretivist perspective and the question how ethnography and causality can work as complementary, not counterposed projects.

Helping us with these philosophical endeavours will be Prof. Paul Lichterman from the University of Southern California who will give a short presentation on the matter. We will then open the floor for an open discussion and Q&A.

About the Speaker:Prof. Paul Lichterman is professor of sociology and religion at the University of Southern California. He is author of the award-winning books Elusive Togetherness (Princeton) and The Search for Political Community, and the co-editor of The Civic Life of American Religion.

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Qualifie Session #2 | Interpretivism with Prof. Bateson

Our second session will focus on post-positivist perspective. We will moroever discuss how post-positivism interacts with fieldwork and how we can consequently prove causal relations and mechanisms.

For that purpose, we have invited Prof. Regina Bateson from the University of Ottawa who will give a short presentation on the matter. We will then open the floor for an open discussion and Q&A.

Register here: https://www.eui.eu/events?id=542809

About the Speaker: Regina Bateson is an assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. Her research is motivated by a concern for the rights and dignity of ordinary people. Several of her projects look at when, where, and how vigilantism occurs. She also studies human rights, political violence, civil wars, political participation, and gender and racial discrimination. Geographically, she focuses on Latin America (especially Central America) and the United States, though she also enjoys cross-national and conceptual projects. 

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Scholars

Mariusz Bogacki

PhD Researcher @ EUI | European Identity in Scotland | Ethnography, Participant Observation

Lillian Frost

Max Weber Fellow @ EUI | Citizenship and refugee policies, primarily in Jordan | Interviews (elite and otherwise); Archival research; Comparative Cases

Robin Huguenot-Noel

PhD Researcher @ EUI | Welfare developments under EU economic and monetary integration | Process Tracing; Elite interviews

Tina Magazzini

Research Associate @ EUI | Identity politics, Social inclusion, Migration and integration, Minority-majority-state relations | Comparative Qualitative Studies, Discourse and Content Analysis, Elite Interviews, Focused Groups, Semi-structured Interviews, Iterative Contextualism

Lydia Letsch

Research Associate @ EUI | Security governance and border communities in North Africa | Ethnographic methods, interviews

Wolfgang Minatti

PhD Researcher @ EUI | Legitimation in Civil War | Semi-Structured Interviews, Fieldwork in Post-Conflict Areas

Marta Moretti

PhD Researcher @ EUI | Migration, Environment and Social Justice

Emdjed Kurdnidjad

PhD Researcher @ EUI | The Discourse of Death in PKK's Ideology | Interviewing, Literature Analysis, Ideology Analysis, Discourse Analysis

Anja Thomas

Max Weber Fellow @ EUI | Democratic norms and practices and European integration | Interviews, Discourse Analysis, Participant Observation

Joakim Brattvoll

PhD Researcher @ EUI | Russian foreign and security policies, IR-theory, International security | Discourse analysis, Archival research

Juho Hänninen

PhD Researcher @ EUI | Youth culture from a Life Course Perspective | Life course analysis, Oral history, Grounded theory

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Hosts

Ophelia Nicole-Berva, Mariusz Bogacki & Wolfgang Minatti
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Sponsors

Jeffrey Checkel & Caitlin Procter
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Department of Political and Social Sciences
European University Institute

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