- Mapping the self
- Challenges of insider research in a riot-affected city and strategies to improve data quality
- Contemporary South Asia
- Volume | Issue number
- 25 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Ethnic riots in India rarely lead to convictions of perpetrators and redress for victims. By implication, antagonisms prevail years after violence has ceased and victims often find themselves sharing everyday spaces with their attackers. The task of identifying the
risk factors leading to ethnic violence as well as the nuances of coexistence for individuals ridden with memories of violence and prejudice is rife with methodological and ethical challenges. Concerns surrounding data quality are enhanced when the researcher is also an insider. In a study spanning 26 months (undertaken between 2010
and 2015), I examine the challenges of an insider researcher in the context of Hindu–Muslim violence that occurred in Gujarat in 2002, and offer techniques to improve data quality. Strategies include the cross-verification of sources within official data; interviewing respondents in group and individual settings to address the attitudinal fallacy; and employing respondent-empowered cognitive maps. I argue that visual data, such as cognitive maps, enable a better understanding of abstract social concepts and also facilitate a balance between distance and involvement for the insider researcher.
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