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Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork

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Course Information


This one-day workshop will introduce participants to the literature on anticipating and managing danger in qualitative fieldwork as it pertains to the practice of oral history both in relatively benign and in overtly hostile settings. It offers an alternative perspective to the widespread assumption that oral history is an inherently positive endeavour that results in good relationships and positive outcomes, and explores some of the circumstances through which danger can emerge in the course of oral historical fieldwork. It also offers preliminary recommendations for anticipating and managing these forms of harm as it relates to different stages in the fieldwork process, including

(a) pre-fieldwork research design and ethics approval

(b) the recruitment and interview phase

(c) analysis and dissemination aimed at informing academic and public audiences.

Course Code


Course Date

6th September 2017

Places Available

Course Leader

Dr. Erin Jessee
Course Description

The course covers:

  • Interdisciplinary literature on managing danger in fieldwork
  • Anticipating the potential for danger in oral historical research during the research design phase
  • Addressing danger that emerges in the midst of oral historical research in various settings to ensure minimal harm for the researcher, research assistants, and research participants
  • Maintaining a high standard for data security both during and after fieldwork
  • Ensuring minimal harm related to the analysis and dissemination of research findings to academic and public audiences in the aftermath of oral historical fieldwork

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Gain an advanced knowledge of the literature on managing danger as it pertains to the practice of oral history
  • Have an appreciation of the merits and ethical and methodological challenges that surround the practice of oral history in potentially dangerous or conflicted settings and
  • Enhance skills related to oral history research design, ethics approval, interviewing, analysis, and dissemination as it relates to participants intended projects.

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