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Revolutions and Wars in the 19th and 20th Century

Rivoluzioni e guerre fra il XIX e il XXI secolo

Research, Politics, Ethic and Militancy in the Human and Social Sciences

Ricerca, politica, etica e militanza nelle scienze umanistiche e sociali

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Published on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 by Céline Guilleux


This panel seeks to provide a reflection on a multidisciplinary basis about the ethical implications on research in humanities and social science related to the objects of study. These objects potentially induce the researcher to "adopt" (even indirectly) one or more of the parts/reasons involved.



XIII Annual Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SeSaMO)

University of Catania, Italy

17-19 March 2016

Migrants: communities, borders, memories, conflicts


This panel seeks to provide a reflection on a multidisciplinary basis about the ethical implications on research in humanities and social science related to the objects of study. These objects potentially induce the researcher to "adopt" (even indirectly) one or more of the parts / reasons involved.

Conflict situations are in fact the archetype of the object of study. For their understanding and interpretation it is often used the participant observation, but in a sense that now goes beyond that given by Malinowski in the 20s of last century. On the other hand, empathy determined by participant observation can lead to militant or, even to a sort of "action research" (Lewin, 1972; Barbier, 1983 and 1996), in which the study is conducted with the aim of contributing in a certain way to the change in the situation. This takes place in most cases through the production of a knowledge shared  with the subjects 'observed', but it then returns, almost in a spiral mechanism, to the analysis of presumably induced changes.

Contrary to what you might be tempted to think, the "action research" involves not only sociologists, urban planners and anthropologists, for which in theory it is simple enough to slip from a participating observation to a "militant" one, but also opens up questions for historians regarding the use of their oral and written sources. In fact, it is true that in the latter case it is almost impossible a dialogue with the creators of the document or those mentioned in it. The focus shifts on the use and interpretation of the sources, i.e. the results of the research are potentially able to affect this at a micro- and macro political, social and memory levels (going from an individual perspective to a basic or even higher social nucleus).

In any case, the process of identification with one of the conflicting parties produces consequences on the research results, and probably changes the nature of research. These conditions are in fact likely to shift the focus from the object to the same subject. The focus shifts also on the relationship between the researcher and the research subjects, forcing theoretically the former to turn himself into an object of study in order to resolve the tangle formed by his cultural and personal background (Caratini, 1997), that influences the interpretation of the situation and the production of new knowledge.

In this panel, it is required to the panelists to focus on the methodologies that are used by researchers to cope with the aforementioned epistemological dilemmas: what research for which militancy? And above all: what impact for the conduct and accuracy of the analysis proposals? On the other hand, it seems interesting to get out of a paradigmatic definition of "scientific" research. Particularly when the research is required to have a direct effect on the reality that claims to be examined. It is also necessary to think about how the notion of "scientific research" has been transformed over time and space, when applied to the humanities and social sciences.

This is why the time considered by the panel is deliberately broad and may include a variety of situations, from the colonial wars of the nineteenth century to the regime changes of independence, to the social modern and contemporary political conflicts that, for example, have characterized the 'affirmation of post-independence elites of the various countries of the Middle East and Islam.

Proposals for abstracts (in Italian, French or English) will therefore have to refer to a clear conflict situation to illustrate by reference to those who are / were the methodological tools, ethical, cultural used for the purpose of a particular scientific result. It is namely to highlight the difficulties and resolutions that have arisen in order to overcome or assume the aforementioned epistemological dilemma, in an ongoing confrontation between subjectivity and objectivity of the research. In a comparison between distance and implication of the researcher and his object of study.

The reports will be proposed for publication in a journal yet to be identified or to a collective volume. However, the ultimate goal of the panel is to create a working group to discuss these and other aspects of the research on the aforementioned areas, so as to propose a detailed research project to national (PRIN) or international (ANR France, ERC or Gerda Henkel Foundation) institutes of research.

Bibliographical references

BARBIER R. (1983), La recherche-action existentielle, Pour, La recherche-action, Paris, Privat, n°90, juin-juillet 1983, 27-31

BARBIER R., (1996), La recherche-action, Paris, Anthropos, coll. ethno-sociologie, 112 p.

CARATINI S., (1997), Expérience de terrain, construction du savoir, L’Homme, 37 n°143, p. 179-187.

LEWIN K., (1972), Psychologie dynamique, Les relations humaines, Paris, PUF, IV ed. , ed. originale 1931

MALINOWSKI B., (1922),  Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An account of native enterprise and adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.


  • Francesco Correale, CNRS – UMR 7324 CITERES, Tours (francesco.correale@univ-tours.fr)
  • Gennaro Gervasio, The British University in Egypt, Il Cairo (gennaro.gervasio@bue.edu.eg)


Nicola Melis, Università di Cagliari (nmelis@unica.it)


  • Université de Catane - Piazza Universita
    Catania, Italian Republic (95100)


  • Sunday, December 20, 2015


  • conflit, islam, observation participante, militance, scientificité, paradigme


  • Francesco Correale
    courriel : francesco [dot] correale [at] univ-tours [dot] fr
  • Gennaro Gervasio
    courriel : gennaro [dot] gervasio [at] bue [dot] edu [dot] eg

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Francesco Correale
    courriel : francesco [dot] correale [at] univ-tours [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Revolutions and Wars in the 19th and 20th Century », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, https://calenda.org/345335

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