Ethical Considerations: Lammers' “Researching Refugees: Preoccupations with Power and Questions of Giving”

In her article, “Researching Refugees: Preoccupations with Power and Questions of Giving,” Ellen Lammers complicates mainstream presuppositions about ethical distance and giving when researching within displaced communities, especially how it affects identities of power. Lammers sums up the well-known, unwritten ethical rule like this: “it is unethical to give in a context defined by power differences, because giving further exacerbates these differences and, for one thing, may lure people into participating in a project that they may otherwise have preferred to stay away from” (75). Despite Lammers’ understanding that acts of giving (time, money, practical assistance, etc.) from researcher to subject have messy consequences, she argues that in the end, giving is a natural part of a relationship that is built on trust and respect- a friendship. Lammers frustrates identity norms in the research/ subject relationship by pointing out that vulnerable populations, such as refugees, have al…

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