ISBN: 978-1-350-26565-3

Lynn P. Nygaard


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For researchers from the Global North, conducting fieldwork in insecure zones in the Global South can be fraught with missteps – from not understanding local customs to inadvertently getting caught in high-risk situations. ‘Facilitating researchers’ (local assistants who act as key agents in the field) play an invaluable role in helping the ‘contracting researchers’ (those who are leading the project) gain access to the field. This volume provides unique insight into some of the challenges facilitating researchers face – from underpayment (or no payment), to lack of recognition for the work they do, to exposure to personal and psychological injury. Written as a collaborative effort featuring the voices of facilitating researchers from DR Congo, Sierra Leone, and India, the book raises critical questions about equitable treatment, research ethics, and what constitutes co-authorship. The theme ‘broken promises’ is repeated throughout. While it might be tempting to dismiss some of these stories as unfortunate, one-off occurrences, the authors convincingly point to systemic sources of inequality: Funding structures, persistent stereotypes of facilitating researchers as money-grubbing and unreliable, and university policies that promote solo authorship. In addition to advocating a higher degree of collaboration throughout the entire funding cycle, more transparent remuneration, and a broader understanding of co-authorship, the authors also – surprisingly – call for an increase in remote research, where the contracting researchers remain in the Global North and the facilitating researchers are given greater responsibility and autonomy. Not everything in this book is comfortable reading, and many of us are bound to get defensive. But the voices are authentic, and their questions worthy of serious attention.