Fieldwork as Failure: Living and Knowing in the Field of International Relations

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This volume aims to unsettle the silence that surrounds fieldwork failure in both methods training and academic publications. While fieldwork has gradually evolved into standard practice in IR research, the question of possible failures in field-based knowledge production remains conspicuously absent from both graduate training and writing in IR. This volume fills that lacuna by engaging with fieldwork as a site of knowledge production and inevitable failure. It develops methodological discussions in IR in two novel ways. First, it engages failure through experience-near and practice-based perspectives, with authors speaking from their experiences. And secondly, it delves into the politics of methods in IR and the discipline more generally to probe ways in which the realities of research condition scholarly claims.

Edited by Katarina Kušić and Jakub Záhora

Contributors: Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Lydia C. Cole, Jan Daniel, Sezer İdil Göğüş, Johannes Gunesch, Danielle House, Xymena Kurowska, Ewa Maczynska, Emma Mc Cluskey, Holger Niemann, Amina Nolte, Desirée Poets and Renata Summa.


Table of contents

INTRODUCTION: FIELDWORK, FAILURE, IR
Katarina Kušić and Jakub Záhora

PART I: SUCCESSFULLY MAKING THE RESEARCHER

  1. FIELDWORK, FEELINGS AND FAILURE TO BE A (PROPER) SECURITY RESEARCHER – Jan Daniel
  2. NEGOTIATIONS IN THE FIELD: CITIZENSHIP, POLITICAL BELONGING AND APPEARANCE – Sezer İdil Göğüş
  3. ATTUNING TO ALTERITY: FROM DEPRESSION TO FIELDWORK – Jakub Záhora

PART II: SITUATING KNOWLEDGE

  1. FAILING BETTER TOGETHER? A STYLISED CONVERSATION – Johannes Gunesch and Amina Nolte
  2. THE LIMITS OF CONTROL? CONDUCTING FIELDWORK AT THE UNITED NATIONS – Holger Niemann
  3. TEARS AND LAUGHTER: AFFECTIVE FAILURE AND MIS/RECOGNITION IN FEMINIST IR RESEARCH – Lydia C. Cole

PART III: UNDERSTANDING AND CONNECTING

  1. THE VALORISATION OF INTIMACY: HOW TO MAKE SENSE OF DISDAIN, DISTANCE AND ‘DATA’ – Emma Mc Cluskey
  2. FAILING IN THE REFLEXIVE AND COLLABORATIVE TURNS: EMPIRE, COLONIALISM, GENDER AND THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF NORTH-SOUTH COLLABORATIONS – Desirée Poets
  3. REPRODUCING THE EUROPEAN GAZE THROUGH REFLEXIVITY: THE LIMITS OF CALLING OUT FAILURES – Ewa Maczynska
  4. RESEARCHING THE UNCERTAIN: MEMORY AND DISAPPEARANCE IN MEXICO – Danielle House

PART IV: WRITING AS TRANSLATION

  1. WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN LOST: FIELDWORK AND THE CHALLENGES OF TRANSLATION – Renata Summa
  2. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF: ‘I’ AS A TOOL, A VOICE AND AN OBJECT IN WRITING – Katarina Kušić

CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS

  1. BUILDING ON RUINS OR PATCHING UP THE POSSIBLE? REINSCRIBING FIELDWORK FAILURE IN IR AS A PRODUCTIVE RUPTURE – Berit Bliesemann de Guevara and Xymena Kurowska

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