Methodological seminar - Gernot Klantschnig, Ediomo-Ubong Nelson, Janet Ogundairo
On the 16th of November, Gernot Klantschnig, Ediomo-Ubong Nelson and Janet Ogundairo gave a methological seminar shedding light on the ethical considerations and methodological obstacles researchers may encounter while doing sensitive research, with the goal of contributing to the knowledge necessary to navigate the intricate terrain of studying illicit activities and building capacity to conduct academically rigorous research with far-reaching policy and governance implications.
Gernot Klantschnig presented the Canabis Africana project and its ambitions to provide a historical account of cannabis in Africa, understand the contemporary place, purpose and perceived utility of cannabis (livelihoods rather than criminal justice lens). The program also explores varied cultures of use around cannabis in 4 select sites mobilizing qualitative methodologies and aims to assess the impact of drug policy on cannabis production, trade and use (‘policy from below’ in flux).
Ediomo-Ubong Nelson then discussed the importance of negotiating trust in fieldwork on illicit markets. He highlighted that building trust and rapport is important in research on criminalized and stigmatized activities and that trust is essential for accessing participants, conducting interviews and generating credible data.
Janet Ogundairo then talked about the importance of the concepts of positionality and reflexivity during fieldwork. Reflexivity is understood as an on-going process of self-awareness and critical examination of the researcher's influence, biases and assumptions throughout the study. Positionality being the acknowledgment and understanding of the researcher's socio-cultural background, position of power, status and how they can influence the research process.