Researching Conflict in the Humanities: Challenges, Practices and Methods

Various dates (March - June)

This interdisciplinary student-led training is designed for PhD students and Early Career Researchers in the Arts and Humanities studying conflicts from the First World War to the present, regardless of geographical location. It seeks to question the positionality of the researcher, and explore the most current methodological approaches in the study of conflict in different disciplines. In a series of five successive events, we will aim to explore specifically the question of the political bias of the researcher, the most adequate methodologies to study conflict, and the use of potential instrumentalisation of research for activism. Participants will be allowed to engage, propose approaches relevant to their disciplines, and test ideas in an open and less formal setting.

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+ Politics and Reflexivity when Studying Conflict (1/4)

Tuesday 19 March 2019 | 0930-1330

Room MAL G16, Malet Street, Birkbeck

The first session will focus on the impact that political partiality may have on our research. When researching twentieth and twenty-first-century conflicts, are we irremediably governed by partisan and ideological convictions? Are all methodological decisions necessarily political choices as well? How much reflexivity should you include in your thesis? What is adequate, and to what extent do you think this actually impacts your research?

This event will consist of a talk, discussion, reading group, and informal networking.

Participants will be e-mailed texts for the discussion two weeks prior to the session.

Program schedule:

9:30 - Arrive, tea and coffee

10:00 - Talk by Dr Audrey Alejandro followed by a Q&A

11:00 - Break and networking session

11:30 - Discussion of texts

13:15 - Closing remarks

Key speaker: Dr Audrey Alejandro, Assistant Professor in the department of Methodology at the LSE.

Dr Alejandro is an International Political Sociology Scholar working at the crossroads of International Relations, Sociology and Political Science. She is specialised in the study of knowledge and discourse and their interaction with the social and political order.

+ Approaching Conflict in the Humanities: Interdisciplinarity at Work? (2/4)

Thursday 25 April 2019 | 1030 - 1600

Park View room, The Imperial War Museum, London

The second session (25 April 2019, Imperial War Museum London) will focus on the interdisciplinary methodologies used when researching and presenting topics of war and conflicts. Transitioning from the first session which focused on the researcher, the next session will focus on the researcher’s relationship to interdisciplinarity and to the institutions he or she is affiliated with. The nature of these institutions and their relationship to methodological approaches will be interrogated.

A pronounced characteristic of the landscape of contemporary research in the humanities is the exchange that is taking place between different disciplines with the purpose of approaching a topic from different angles and breaking established narratives. Interdisciplinarity is clearly widespread, established, and supported by museums, galleries, higher education institutions, as well as funding bodies in Europe and North America.

Studying conflicts is intrinsically an interdisciplinary endeavour, but how do we use interdisciplinarity in our research, both in a practical and critical way? How exactly can we work across various disciplines and with what methodological tools? Do the institutions we are affiliated with prescribe methodologies? What is the nature of the knowledge produced with interdisciplinary methods and do we have the appropriate critical tools for assessing this knowledge? Taking the example of the IWM’s Research arm, and its work with other HE institutions to host collaborative PhDs, we will aim to critically reflect on these questions, applying them to the very specific nature of the study of war.

Participants will be e-mailed texts for the discussion two weeks prior to the session.

Program schedule:

10:30 – Registration and introductory remarks (tea/coffee)

11:00 – Talks by Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Research at the Imperial War Museum and Michaela Crimmin, co-founder of Culture + Conflict and Lecturer at the Royal College of Art followed by a Q&A.

12:15 – Light lunch (provided) + networking

13:15 – Presentations by Imperial War Museum CDP research students

14:15 – Tea and coffee break

14:30 – Discussion / Reading group / Debate

15:45 – Closing remarks followed by museum visit.

+ Feminist Methodologies when Studying Conflict (3/4)

Friday 31 May 2019 | 1400-1700

Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9EW

The third session in the “Researching Conflict in the Humanities” programme will be centred on feminist methodology and how it may enable and affect the study of war and conflict. We will address together questions such as: What have feminist approaches brought and can continue to bring to the study of war and conflict? How might gender, and in particular a feminist viewpoint, influence the choices we make in our research methodology? How could our own research in war and conflict be articulated through a feminist methodology?

The event will begin with a talk by Dr Azadeh Fatehrad, presenting examples of feminist methodology in her ongoing practice-based research projects. A group discussion reflecting on selected texts in relation to the thematic of this session will follow.

Dr Azadeh Fatehrad is an artist and curator based in London. Dr Fatehrad’s research, artistic and curatorial practice are intertwined around a process of gathering information and generating new imagery in response to archival material she discovers. Her practice ranges from still and moving images to fictional stories, short films, performance and artist books. Dr Fatehrad is co-founder of ‘Herstoriographies: The Feminist Media Archive Research Network’ in London.

Participants will be e-mailed texts for the discussion two weeks prior to the session.

Program Schedule:

14:00 – Introduction

14:15 – Talk by Dr Azadeh Fatehrad, followed by questions and discussion

15:30 – Break and networking session

15:45 – Discussion of texts and debate

17:15 – Closing remarks

+ Academic Impact and Activism (4/4)

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Room MAL G16, Malet Street, Birkbeck

Researching Conflict’s fourth session will focus on the relationship between activism and academia, especially when dealing with such highly partisan and politically charged topics as war and conflict, whose study and memory is both shaped by, and shapes, our current political climate. Transitioning from the first three events, which highlighted issues of reflexivity, interdisciplinarity, and feminist methodologies, this session will focus on the implications of producing purposefully engaged research.

In an era in which researchers’ involvement and visibility in academic life is arguably as important as research itself, and in which funding bodies often require evidence of the impact of research, what shape does a researcher’s political implication takes? We previously addressed the question of how one’s political beliefs blend into and influence the very methodologies of research, and to what extent we are able to acknowledge this influence. How, why, and to what effect, are these beliefs then transferred from strictly specialist circles to have an impact upon civil society?

Many researchers today set out with an overt political agenda, and go on to contribute to political discourse and engage in activism, armed with the legitimacy the status of ‘academic’ affords them. What do the diverse modes and intensity of an academic researcher’s activism—from abstaining to participate in political activism through to clicktivism and hashtag activism, open partisan membership and participation in public protests (at times leading to imprisonment or torture)—mean, and what are their ethical and methodological implications? What is the relationship between emotion and activism? Are there circumstances in which political activism distracts from academic freedom? In our era of ‘post-truth’, what exactly may an academic researcher’s political roles be, from remaining in the opposition to established forms of power, to taking on policy advisory roles, to technocracy?

More broadly, this session seeks to re-examine and bring up-to-date the question of the political and moral ‘responsibility of intellectuals’ – over fifty years after Noam Chomsky’s influential article, written in the context of the Vietnam War. Does the researcher, who gains and produces knowledge under the (highly-contested) banner of the so-called 'pursuit of truth', have a responsibility towards society, and who defines what this responsibility is? Or can the researcher herself remain removed from active political life, under the assumption that once one's research is written and presented in the usual mechanisms of academia, it will eventually be picked up by policy makers to inform their decisions? In other words, does academic responsibility and morality simply equate to ‘the pursuit of truth’ or is it inextricably linked with an active engagement towards social progress?

The event will consist of a talk by an established scholar, discussions of assigned readings, and networking, with informal presentation and discussion of your own research.

Participants will be e-mailed texts for the discussion approximately two weeks prior to the session.

Program Schedule:

14:00 – Introduction

14:15 – Talk by Dr Zeina Maasri and Dr Rachel Warriner followed by questions and a discussion

15:45 – Break and networking session

16:00 – Discussion of texts

17:00 – Closing remarks

Please note that the final workshop, Researching Conflict in the Humanities: Challenges, Practices and Mathods, which was scheduled to take place on 28 June, has now been cancelled

By registering below you are requesting a place on this training programme or selected sessions that form part of the programme. A member of the CHASE team or the workshop leader will contact you in due course to confirm that a place has been allocated to you. If you no longer require a place, please email as soon as possible so your name can be removed from the registration list.  

If you are allocated a place but can no longer attend, please email so that your place can be reallocated. CHASE training is free to attend and events are often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Failure to notify us of non-attendance in good time (ideally 5 days prior to the workshop/programme) means your place cannot be reallocated and may result in your access to future CHASE training being restricted.

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