19 January, 2018

Call for Papers: RGS-IBG 2018 Annual International conference, Cardiff (UK), 28.31 August 2018

Over-Researched Places
Certain places are magnets for researchers and sometimes we bump into other researchers or share interview times with them. The ‘Ghosts of Researchers Past’ linger at the case study sites we visit and traces are present in the work we produce. There has been recent interest in the problems of large numbers of researchers in places as diverse as Hackney (Neal et al, 2016), the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon (Sukarieh & Tannock, 2013), and Transition Towns (Taylor Aiken, 2017). This body of literature focuses primarily on reasons that particular places are popular with researchers or on research fatigue of respondents. There is a need for reflexive interrogation of the issue of this researcher saturation and its consequences. The research itself, and theory building more widely, can be weaker where it is over-reliant on examples which may prove to be outliers or the applicability of generalisations over-claimed. Over-research also produces a sample bias: familiar cases are easier to communicate to other researchers; possibly easier to publish; or conversely, researchers wring dry popular cases. This also raises questions on the nature of research itself: is it possible to over-research anything, or is seeming over-research just poor research? We could even ask if the research encounter is singular? 

This session aims to explore the consequences of theory being developed from research on places that are saturated with other researchers from multiple disciplines. Papers are invited to bring case studies of urban or rural landscapes anywhere in the world to address such issues as: Theoretical links and implications; Methods and Positionality; Research (and researcher) fatigue; Researching researchers; Encounters. Papers that use a reflexive approach or consider the conceptual complications of researching in researcher-saturated landscapes are particularly welcomed.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 200 words to Dr Cat Button (cat.button@ncl.ac.uk) and Dr Gerald Taylor Aiken (gerald.aiken@uni.lu) by 10th February 2018.

  1. Neal, S, Mohan, G, Cochrane, A & Bennett, K 2016 ‘You can’t move in Hackney without bumping into an anthropologist’: why certain places attract research attention Qualitative Research 16(5) 491-507.
  2. Sukarieh, M & Tannock, S 2013 On the problem of over-researched communities: The case of the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon. Sociology, 47(3), pp.494-508.
  3. Taylor Aiken, G 2017 Social Innovation and Participatory Action Research: A Way to Research Community? European Public and Social Innovation Review 2(1).

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