Are we entering a post-fieldwork era? The challenges of the neoliberal university and the digital revolution to fieldwork research

In advance of the 2015 SCID Symposium on Researching and Working in Conflict-Affected Environments, and for those of you working on your dissertations and research proposals, considering PhDs, or otherwise engaged in research, I hope you find this blog post by Roger MacGinty of interest.

rogermacginty

In many ways, research into peace and conflict has never been in a better place – particularly in the sense of the growing prominence of critical perspectives, and in growing trends towards inter-disciplinary approaches to research and teaching. Some of the research that one hears about at conferences or sees in the journals is genuinely innovative and infused with energy, critique and impatience with existing paradigms. And much of the research, often that conducted by PhD students, is based on innovative and courageous fieldwork that involves immersion in conflict-affected contexts, and a deep passion to try to understand local communities and dynamics.

The neoliberal university
But, behind these outwardly good signs, it is possible to notice increasingly strong signs that universities are shying away from fieldwork. Modern universities are corporations. Like all corporations they are risk averse. Their governance systems, and indeed raison d’etre, are increasingly given over to neoliberal…

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