Session: WITHDRAWN International Research on Survivors of Trauma and Violence in Fragile Contexts: Issues for Researchers and Participants (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

15 WITHDRAWN International Research on Survivors of Trauma and Violence in Fragile Contexts: Issues for Researchers and Participants

Thursday, January 13, 2022: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Archives, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: International Social Work & Global Issues
Anne Ruelle, AM, University of Chicago, Lindsay Stark, DrPH, Washington University in Saint Louis, Mary Bunn, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago and Kim Thuy Seelinger, JD, Washington University in Saint Louis
This roundtable will focus on international social work research conducted with survivors of trauma and violence in fragile contexts. Humanitarian emergencies, war and post-conflict settings present a range of unique challenges for researchers, collaborators, and participants. These challenges include harassment, threat, secondary or vicarious trauma, retraumatization, increased risk due to participation in studies on violence, and lack of institutional support to deal with the effects of this research.

Institutions in the Global North, including IRB committees, often fail to consider the ethical and practical challenges of this work in vastly different institutional and cultural contexts. Research design and ethics approvals may focus on participant protections but assume researcher safety. Assumptions that only participants may be impacted by research on violence and trauma may silence researchers who face difficult experiences and symptoms of vicarious trauma. The risks or impacts of violence research may be experienced differently depending on the researcher’s race, gender, national origin, or other identities. This is particularly relevant to primary investigators working with a research team of local research assistants. While the “insider� perspective is often valued, insider status and shared identities may also make researchers and their teams more vulnerable. International research in contexts where violence is common requires special care in the prevention and mitigation of further violence and trauma for participants and researchers alike.

In this roundtable, we aim to identify the impact of research in international fragile and violent contexts beyond what is traditionally considered. The session will begin with a dialogue about international research in fragile settings (humanitarian emergencies, war and post-conflict settings). and unique considerations when conducting research with survivors of trauma and violence (e.g., war, gender-based violence, forced migration, torture). We will then discuss researchers’ experiences of research-related vicarious trauma and resilience, including results from a survey of symptoms, coping mechanisms, and perceptions of support (Thuy Seelinger). We will then discuss potential long-term and adverse consequences of such research on study participants (Stark). Finally, we will discuss strategies that can be leveraged to navigate and minimize risks to study participants and the broader research team including the role of academic-community partnerships and using a trauma-informed approach to the research process (Bunn). Our goal is to identify the unique challenges around violence and trauma in international research in fragile settings and reflect upon how to better address them in our institutions and our peer support networks.

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