Research issues examined

08 May 2008 | Story by Myolisi Gophe

Sian Butcher
Pay back: Master's student Sian Butcher hosted a workshop to challenge academics and students to contribute to social change

Political and social problems concerning research in Southern Africa were scrutinised when master's student Sian Butcher hosted a workshop on qualitative fieldwork methodologies recently.

Her seminar, Problematising Qualitative Fieldwork, Negotiating the Field and Back Again, was organised by Butcher, a master's student in human geography, as part of her Potter Charitable Trust Fellowship requirements.

She is finalising her work, a comparative study on women's narratives and housing privatisation in the local community Valhalla Park and Lusaka, Zambia. The question Butcher raises is whether individuals and communities benefit from fieldwork research. "People give their stories and time, but what do we give back?" she asked, challenging academics and students to become activists and contribute to social change.

At the workshop, students and academics had a chance to share their knowledge in panel discussions of many research-related issues, such as negotiating access, conversations regarding the body and identity, and being an insider or an outsider to communities.

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