The other side of fieldwork: experiences and challenges of conducting research in the border area of Rwanda/eastern Congo

  • Larissa Begley University of Sussex

Abstract

This paper will explore various experiences and challenges  that have occurred during my ongoing fieldwork. Beginning in March 2008 and  continuing until October, fieldwork for this research has taken place in the  border region of Rwanda and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),  specifically in the cities of Cyangugu and Gisenyi, Rwanda, and to a lesser extent Goma and Bukavu, DRC. Most anthropologists in the field will experience  feelings of isolation and loneliness. However, the current conditions of this  region, which remains a conflict zone under tight government control, add another  dimension. This has contributed to further feelings of isolation, frustration,  fear, distrust, insecurity, and with no clear way to seek support for both the informants and the anthropologist. This paper will address these challenges and  the ways that they impact on the research process itself, as well as the  effects they have on the anthropologist.

Author Biography

Larissa Begley, University of Sussex
Larissa Begley is currently writing her PhD thesis at the University of Sussex, on how people and the nation-state engage with public and hidden transcripts of various social processes in post-genocide Rwanda. Her research interests include social identities, state control and terror, conflict, genocide ideology, fear, international borders and refugees. She can be contacted at l.begley(AT)sussex.ac.uk.