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Engaging with research ethics through feminist lenses: methods, experiences and writing (co-organized with the anthropology program)


4-5 juin 2021

Responsable de l'activité

Nolwenn Bühler


Dr. Nolwenn Bühler, Prof. Anne Lavanchy and Wiebke Wiesigel with the support of the GRED


Nadja Eggert, University of Lausanne and Holly Porter, University of Cambridge


The second half of the twentieth century was marked by the development and growing institutionalization of research ethics. This trend can be tracked back to scandals in biomedicine especially, which have contributed to the formulation of (bio)ethical principles of research. These are nowadays considered a basic requirement of any research involving human beings. They raise specific issues for social sciences, and especially for disciplines and/or fields dealing with power relationships as well as with iterative and inductive approaches, as do anthropology and gender studies. Anthropologists have responded to the formalization of ethical concerns by insisting on the importance of the political, processual, relational, and situated dimensions of ethics, rather than through the development of abstract and rigid principles. Scholars in gender studies have shed light on the politics of research ethics by broadening the scope of its understanding and turning the gaze to the gender implications of its key notions and forms of moral reasoning. Both researchers in anthropology and gender studies have critically analyzed processes of exclusion and invisibilization of the lives and experiences of women, and of further subaltern groups in terms of race and class, reflecting on political definitions of what is "good research". They questioned the notions of rights, consent, and rational individuals, which are central in the institutionalized version of research ethics, highlighting the problematic assumptions of science as objective, and of the lack of consideration for situated and relational dimensions of knowledge production. Feminist ethics insist rather on the deep interdependence of research participants and researchers alike and on the situated and contingent aspects of their ethical navigations. Diverse in their positionings, feminist ethics put to the forefront notions of care (de la Bellacasa 2011; Tronto 1993), reproductive justice (Luna and Luker 2013), and bodies and emotions as political sites (Ahmed 2010). These critics are useful to reflect on the ethics of biomedical research (for ex. Prainsack 2018), for instance, as well as on the knowledge production in anthropology, where ethical reflections with gender implications take place at all stages of research. From the choice of a subject of inquiry, of methods, and research design, to the publication of writing, including all the practices, experiences and multiple encounters, ethics are at the core of doing research. Drawing on these insights, this two-day residential module proposes to address two main questions: What does gender do to the ethics of research? And what do the ethics of research do to gender? The module aims at providing tools to support participants facing ethical and deontological dilemmas in the context of their research through the lenses of feminist ethics. The objectives will be both to open discussions on the ethical and moral dimensions of their research and to reflect on the resources feminist ethics may offer to position themselves in regard to various research actors (research participants, supervisors, partners, peers, etc.). We will thus discuss how a gender perspective sheds a crucial light on these issues, considering that research is a site of power and power relationships. The module will address following questions, allowing PhD students to discuss the challenges they face at all stages of their research: • Which are the specificities of ethical issues raised by ethnographic methods when choosing a research topic and conducting fieldwork that might relate to gender relations, norms and identities? • What are the processes of inclusion and exclusion at stake in the ethical issues encountered in fieldwork and how do researchers respond to it? • Who are we accountable to during the process of analysis, writing and the dissemination of results? • How does drawing on feminist ethics shape and help us rethink our engagements and positions with research participants, during and after fieldwork? The module will alternate presentations by researchers, workshop discussions of the papers submitted by the PhD students, wider exchanges and debates on the topic of research ethics in both formal and more informal settings. The program will give ample room to reflect upon ethical issues in relation with each doctoral project.


La Rouvraie



Deadline for registration 04.06.2021
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