Field Research in the Middle East

Field research in the Middle EastHistorical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History (Vol. 45, No. 3, 2012) has published an article written by Philipp Amour on Field Research in the Middle East.

Taking into account his own distinct field research experience in the Middle East (Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Syria) while completing his M.A. and Ph.D., Dr Philipp Amour’s article examines different dimensions of field research in the Middle East and addresses the main sets of practical, theoretical, and methodological challenges and considerations: the lack of primary sources, gaining trust, and the omnipresence of the revolution.

Dr Philipp Amour argues that “the classical research methods are not useful for the systematic evaluation of the problems, approaches, and concepts associated with research in difficult environments.” One of the main problems that he was confronted with on-site, is that “traditional Western theory and methodology adequately prepare undergraduate and graduate students for carrying out research in their own societies, but neither prepare them for dealing with difficult research circumstances, nor do they train students for conflict areas in post-traumatic societies.”

He writes further that “Field researchers who are well-informed and knowledgeable of cross-disciplinary Middle Eastern Studies, and who are equipped with technical skills and field research experience, will enhance the success of their field work. Furthermore, a certain amount of socializing, cultural competence in dealing with post-war societies, empathy, and stamina on the part of the researcher are sine qua non to compensate for deficits, special conditions, and restrictions in conflict zones that may hinder the research process.”

You can find the full text of the article here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01615440.2012.670099