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Getting Close to Rwandans since the Genocide: Studying Everyday Life in Highly Politicized Research Settings

  • Susan Thomson


Research with people in highly politicized research settings illuminates the gap between the images that most African governments strive to represent and the sociopolitical realities of everyday life. This article discusses the opportunities and challenges of doing research in postgenocide Rwanda and is a useful resource for researchers contemplating their own projects under such conditions, whether in Rwanda or elsewhere. It discusses the importance of creating personal relationships and meeting people on their terms, as well as such topics as the identification of the research site, building rapport and trust with respondents, safeguarding anonymity and confidentiality, and working with local research assistants and partners.


La recherche menée avec des collègues dans des milieux de recherche hautement politisés met en lumière l'écart entre l'image que la plupart des gouvemements africains veulent se donner et les réalités socio-économiques de la vie courante. L'article examine les opportunités et les difficultés liées à la recherche menée au Rwanda à la suite du génocide, et se veut une source première utile pour les chercheurs contemplant leurs propres prqjets dans de telles conditions, que ce soit au Rwanda on ailleurs. L'article contemple l'importance de créer des liens personnels avec les sujets de la recherche; de travailler avec des partenaires et un assistant de recherche locaux; d'organiser des rencontres avec des gens ordinaires selon leurs propres termes, y compris le choix des sites de recherche, et l'établissement d'un rapport de confiance avec les personnes interrogées pour protéger l'anonymat et la confidentialité de ceux-ci.



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Getting Close to Rwandans since the Genocide: Studying Everyday Life in Highly Politicized Research Settings

  • Susan Thomson


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