Kanisha D. Bond, Milli Lake, and Sarah E. Parkinson offer four lessons from conflict research for the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series. Based on their own extensive backgrounds conducting fieldwork in insecure places, the authors outline several points for researchers newly grappling with pandemic-induced insecurity: that crisis heightens conditions of vulnerability and inequality, that fieldwork is perpetually fraught, that researchers must demonstrate restraint, and that empathy is key. Keeping these lessons in mind, they argue, will help researchers to center the concerns of those at the margins and produce research that is both methodologically and ethically sound.
Milli Lake is an associate professor (beginning Fall 2020) in the International Relations Department at the London School of Economics. Her research examines institutional reform, (in)security and political violence in conflict-affected states. She is currently working on projects in Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Her first solo-authored book, Strong NGOs and Weak States (Cambridge University Press, 2018), examined the challenges and opportunities faced by activists and organizations pursuing gender justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Her research is published in International Organization, Law and Society Review, International Studies Quarterly, World Development, Annual Review of Law and Social Science, and Gender & Society, among other outlets. Prior to joining the London School of Economics, Lake was an assistant professor at Arizona University’s School of Politics and Global Studies. She codirects the Women’s Rights After War project with Marie Berry, and is the cofounder of the Advancing Research on Conflict (ARC) consortium. Lake regularly leads trainings and short courses on qualitative research and field methods. She completed her PhD in political science at the University of Washington in 2014. Follow her on Twitter @millilake.