Short Course: Field Research Methods and Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Assault

Field Research Methods and Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Assault

Stacey Leigh Hunt
Half Day, 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Palais des congrés de Montréal, 512H

Pressured by the #MeToo movement, American political scientists have recently undertaken efforts to address sexual harassment in workplaces such as professional meetings and university departments. Field research methodologists have simultaneously explored a host of security threats faced by field researchers, offering advice on how to protect and prioritize personal safety in the field in the case of environmental disasters, civil war, or state persecution. Little has been said, however, of sexual harassment and assault experienced by political scientists during field research although there is strong evidence that some scholars are at acute risk. This short course will feature a series of facilitated discussions covering recent works in political science and related disciplines that have addressed experiences of sexual violence in the field. In particular, this course seeks to promote conversations and future publications regarding:

• the ubiquity and impact of experiences of sexual harassment and assault in the field
• presumptions of field researcher privilege
• methodological expectations for good field research and the promotion of risky behavior
• rape myths in field research methodology
• the role of emotions in field research
• intersectionality, multifaceted privilege and marginalization, and the relevance of race-sex-class to diverse research environments
• methodological innovations such as fieldwork teams,
• safety protocols for field researchers
• identifying existing and possible institutional resources, networks, and supports for field researchers experiencing sexual violence
• teaching field research methods
• the good-enough field researcher and privileging researcher safety and enjoyment

With an eye toward protecting and advancing pluralism among field researchers and the discipline at large, this short course aims to start a broader conversation about sexual harassment and assault during fieldwork by delineating the magnitude of the problem, investigating existing methodological assumptions and practices, and envisioning practices and policies to address it in the future.