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  • Author or Editor: Martin Fotta x
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The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated or brought about changes in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller-related (GRT) ethnographic research. This chapter explores the concrete methodological implications of these developments, focusing on a series of key elements: the shifting roles, capabilities and accountabilities of researchers; the development of collaborative approaches to project design, implementation and dissemination; the flexible combination of research methods; the ongoing reconfiguring of ‘the field’ from a locale to an evolving set of relations and processes; the foregrounding of doubt, ignorance and failure in the research process; the transformation of ethnographic writing to incorporate the work and perspectives of non-academic GRT interlocutors; and shifting ideas of what outputs of academic value might look like. The chapter introduces the book as a companion to those interested in GRT issues.

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This chapter discusses the transformation of research methods that has been generated or accelerated by the pandemic, and its likely effects on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller-related research. The chapter focuses on the changing roles of researchers and their ethical and political implications. It highlights the affordances and limits of emerging, remote research methodologies and their potential impact on existing power differentials and hierarchies. The chapter suggests that ethnography may become impoverished if it is reduced to the collection of textual and oral data (interviews, online texts and videos). Lastly, the chapter explores the advantages of collaborative research and of the involvement of research participants and assistants when planning, implementing and disseminating projects. It points to problems that may arise from conflicting goals and expectations in such collaborations.

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How can the social sciences be an arena where positive social changes are achieved and not just discussed? How can social science help to shape social priorities in the post-pandemic world? These are immediate, practical questions for scholars planning and implementing research projects. Any answer must necessarily revolve around methods, since change starts close at hand, in the immediacy of one’s daily work, and it starts with practice and action, not with theory and argument. By paying close attention to research methods, it is possible to carry out engaged research – research that is relevant, reflexive, responsible and responsive – even in the midst of a global pandemic.

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Lessons from a Time of Crisis

EPDF and EPUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

This collection scrutinizes the methodological and ethical challenges that researchers face when working with and for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the context of global crises.

Contributors assess the impact of the pandemic on their engaged research, evaluating novel methods and technologies. They reveal how current research practice blurs the borders between activism and scholarship, and they argue the need for innovative collaborations with local communities.

Showcasing emerging aspects of GRT-related scholarship, this book makes a key contribution to larger debates on the positionality of researchers and the politics of research, and affirms the continued value of rigorous ethnography.

Open access