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Visibilising hidden realities and uncertainties: the ‘post-covid’ move towards decolonized and ethical field research practices

Oscar Abedi Dunia, Maria Eriksson Baaz, Anju Oseema Maria Toppo, Swati Parashar, Mats Utas, James B.M. Vincent

2023 Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Africa and India

This article seeks to move beyond the Euro/North-centrism recurrent in methodological discussions on what we may learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. Such debates often centre on uncertainty and involuntary immobility – aspects which are hardly new for many researchers. In this article, we argue that the pandemic offers an opportunity to rethink research relations between what we term ‘contracting researchers’ in the Global North and ‘facilitating researchers’ in the Global South. Such relations are often marked by rampant inequalities in remuneration, work- ing conditions, and visibility/authorship. Drawing upon experiences in DR Congo, Sierra Leone, and India, we argue that the pandemic increased the dependence on – and highlighted the invaluable contributions and skills of – facilitating researchers, in part slightly refiguring bargaining power. We also propose pathways for change, arguing for a strong collaborative approach and the need for institutional change, without discarding the responsibilities of individual researchers.