Symposium explores challenges faced by researchers in the global south

The University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) will present a one-day symposium at York Nov. 30 on the challenges of doing research in the global south.

Some of these challenges include methodological, ethical and cultural issues that arise while doing field research. These issues and more will be discussed at the event, titled "Fieldwork in the Global South, Methods, Ethics and Activism".

Organized by Tim Clark, a PhD candidate in political science, the symposium is designed to provide an interactive forum for discussion particularly relevant for those who have already done research in the global south, are currently doing so or those who are planning to in the future.

Right: Judy Hellman

The symposium will provide an opportunity for participants to share their fieldwork experiences, practices and ideas with others. It will open a window on the unexpected encounters people have had in the world beyond the office or classroom. Participants will also have the chance to make proposals for improvements in the way practitioners and their institutional affiliates and partners approach the dilemmas that inevitably crop up in fieldwork.

The one-day event is for faculty, students, non-governmental organizations, researchers and activists to come together and discuss the adequacy and relevance of prevailing methodological approaches and ethical guidelines for research in the global south.

Three panels of speakers will present and discuss different aspects of research in the global south. The event is co-sponsored by York’s Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean and the University of Toronto’s Department of Sociology & Equity Studies in Education at OISE.

Judy Hellman, York professor in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, will chair the first panel, Methodological Approaches, Ethical Dilemmas, at 10am. Hellman will give a talk on "The Changing Ethical Challenges of Fieldwork"; Alison Collins, manager in York’s Office of Research Ethics, will look at "Research Ethics: Policies, Processes and Procedures"; Clark will explore "Fieldwork and Ethics in the Ivory Tower"; and Janet McLaughlin, PhD candidate in the University of Toronto’s Department of Anthropology, will present "Participatory Research with Vulnerable Workers: Ethical Considerations".

Left: Pablo Idahosa

The second panel, Inheriting Violence: The Ethical Implications of Conducting Research with Latin Americans, at 11:30am, will be chaired by Clark. Three people will present: Paloma Villegas, a graduate student in U of T’s Department of Sociology & Equity Studies in Education at OISE, will look at "Undocumented or Non-Status? The Methodological Imperatives of Tracing the History of Unquestioned Categories"; Francisco Villegas, a PhD candidate at OISE, will explore "Laden Labels: The Criminalizing of Immigrants Through the Use of the Word ‘Illegal’"; and Ana Laura Pauchulo, a PhD candidate at OISE, will discuss "A Witness to a Witness: On the Responsibilities of Researchers Working with Others, Memories and Stories of Violence".

The third panel, The Uneasy Intersection of Fieldwork and Activism in the Global South, will be chaired by York Professor Pablo Idahosa, program coordinator of York’s African Studies Program in the Faculty of Arts, and will run at 2:30pm. OISE Phd candidate Evelyn Encalada will present "The Activist Researcher and the Way We Delude Ourselves in Academe"; York Professor Danielle Robinson in the Department of Dance and U of T Professor Jeff Packman of the Faculty of Music will look at "Dodging Shadows in the Field"; York PhD candidate Keith Barney of the Department of Geography will talk about "Doing Social-Justice Oriented Research in Post-Socialist Authoritarian Loas PRD"; and York Interdisciplinary Studies MA candidate Rebecca Rogerson will discuss "Experiential Indigenous Knowledge: The Quandaries of a Healer, Activist and Consultant in Contemporary South Africa".

The UCGS is an inter-unit initiative based at York that encourages academic engagement with the global south.

The symposium will take place on Friday, Nov. 30, from 10am to 4pm in the Senior Common Room, 305 Founders College, on Keele campus. For more information about the symposium, e-mail Tim Clark at