Tag: ‘qualitative methods’

New publication: The Limits of Oral History

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

This morning, I received a copy of the new issue of the Oral History Review, which contains my first publication from my doctoral dissertation. My paper, “The Limits of Oral History: Ethics and Methodology Amid Highly Politicized Research Settings” is intended to promote discussion among oral historians about the distinct theoretical, ethical and methodological challenges that emerge when working in highly politicized research settings – those in which government seek to aggressively control sociopolitical discourses surrounding recent conflicts to prevent renewed violence and/or legitimize their claim to power. Whereas most oral historians celebrate their discipline for its humanizing potential and its ability to democratize history by engaging with the lived experiences of ordinary civilians, I argue that greater discussion is needed to identify instances in which oral historical methods prove to be impossible, politically inappropriate or even dangerous. This is a particularly timely conversation given the Oral History Association’s emerging interest in promoting oral historical research on “emerging crises.” (more…)

New Book Review: Schrag’s Ethical Imperialism (2010)

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I’ve just received the advanced access link for my book review of Zachary M. Schrag’s Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009, soon to be published with The Oral History Review.

Overall, this was one of the more enjoyable book reviews I’ve had to write. Schrag writes clearly, and has an immense knowledge of the history of institutional review boards (IRBs) based on archival research and interviews with key decision makers in the US government and US universities and research institutions. His goal is to map how federal regulation of the social sciences came about, and how IRBs have evolved from a reasonable response to a perceived threat to the public from biomedical research to become a threat to academic freedom in the social sciences. (more…)

The Smartpen Experiment

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I recently received a Livescribe Smartpen for my birthday (thanks Marc!). As an ethnographer / oral historian, I’d been aware of the smartpen for a few years, and was interested in exploring its potential for my research. However, I  wasn’t sure I could justify the expense ($170-$200) for what might turn out to be a fancy, but ultimately overrated new toy. I already own an Edirol R-1 digital audio recorder, which I love. It accompanied me every step of the way during my fieldwork in Rwanda and Bosnia – fourteen months of various travel-related torture tests – and aside from a few growing pains that were entirely due to my not having read the instructions manual thoroughly, it has never failed me. As a result, I saw no reason to replace my Edirol.


New Resource: CUNY’s Program on States and Security Website

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Susan Woodward’s Program on States and Security at the City University of New York (CUNY) recently launched a new online resource aimed at connecting academic researchers and policy makers who are interested in state-building, state capacity, and state failure. The site includes a scholars database, pages dedicated to recent research, workshops at CUNY, and field research, a community discussions board, and a list of relevant resources.



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