In recent decades there has been increasing media attention to mass atrocities such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross human rights violations. At the same time, there has been a vast increase in the number of academics and researchers seeking to analyze the causes of, and oﬀer practical responses to, these atrocities. Yet there remains insuﬃcient discussion of the practical and ethical challenges surrounding research into serious abuses where researchers operate under diﬃcult circumstances and deal with vulnerable populations. Respect for and protection of interlocutors and researchers and the challenges of assessing the veracity of information gathered in research in conﬂict areas are issues that arise with greater frequency in academic ﬁeld research, yet rarely arise as a central topic of scholarly study. That the ethical issues surrounding human rights ﬁeldwork receive scant
attention in existing literature on qualitative research is deeply troubling. Without a set of materials acknowledging and examining these issues, university professors face great diﬃculty in adequately preparing their students embarking on qualitative studies that bring them into conﬂict areas and in conﬂict with vulnerable populations. In the absence of academic analysis and debate on these important issues, ﬁeld researchers act without the beneﬁt of the knowledge and experiences of their colleagues and, thus, continually ﬁnd themselves reinventing the wheel. The stress of determining eﬀective research strategies in the ﬁeld on a case-by-case basis, under pressure, in isolation and without considered connection to praxis, weighs heavily on researchers and their subjects, underlying possibilities for short-and long-term fruitful collaboration. With this book we seek to help researchers identify and address challenges
in conducting qualitative research in diﬃcult circumstances; circumstances such as in autocratic or uncooperative regimes and with governmental or non-governmental oﬃcials and, perhaps most importantly, with reluctant respondents such as victims of genocide, or (on the other side of the coin) war criminals. How do we gain authentic information and generate credible
knowledge from research in diﬃcult places and from diﬃcult audiences? Can we do this? Are there practical and ethical solutions to the challenges and barriers often put before us? In this way we strive to inform ongoing debate about responsible scholarship, and seek to inform not just students and scholars, but also policymakers engaged in research in diﬃcult situations.